Article provided by National Library Board

Voicing the pandemic experience: A rich collection of oral stories contribute to 'Documenting Covid-19 in Singapore'

PHOTO: NATIONAL LIBRARY BOARD

A construction company boss recalled how shocked he was when he learnt almost all his employees had been infected with COVID-19. A businessman who contracted the coronavirus recounted his pain and joy of celebrating his birthday in an isolation facility while video-calling his family. A staff nurse shared his experience assisting the first two local cases of COVID-19. These are just some of the intimate and first-hand stories that have been captured as part of a two-year oral history component of the “Documenting COVID-19 in Singapore” project.

Launched by the National Library Board (NLB) on May 22, 2020, we have since been adding oral history stories to our repository of contributions on the pandemic so that this chapter of the Singapore story can be recorded for future generations.

In-depth interviews by volunteers

Oral records provide a rich understanding of how the pandemic unfolded through first-person accounts. This is why the National Archives of Singapore (NAS) has been conducting 10 in-depth interviews from a diverse selection of profiles each month. The subjects range from healthcare professionals and officers on duty to patients and people living through the upheaval that COVID-19 has wrought.

The interviews will be conducted by a team of NAS staff and 84 trained volunteers, who will work together to capture the experiences, emotions, reflections and behind-the-scenes details from the respondents using a strict methodology for recording oral history. 

By the end of 2022, we hope to amass the stories of at least 120 profiles to give the public a better understanding of how the pandemic unfolded. These interviews are already searchable and accessible on NAS' Archives Online website (https://go.gov.sg/c-19-oral-history). NLB will progressively make more interviews available online once they are completed and processed, with the interviewees’ permissions to release them.