Ram Stories: The COVID-19 Oral History Project

What is the Ram Stories project?

The Ram Stories project will record, collect for researchers, and share with the university community at least 200 student and alumni interviews about COVID-19’s effect on students at Colorado State University. These interviews will promote a broad understanding of the pandemic’s impacts by producing a record of individual and collective experiences.

The project will illuminate the impact of the pandemic on students’ physical and mental health, their families and communities, their values and identities. The project will also capture CSU’s dynamic response to the pandemic and concerted efforts to support and sustain the wellbeing of its students. Ultimately, we hope this oral history project will help the university community prepare for, and respond to, other world-changing events. 

A CSU student at her graduation in 2020, wearing a protective mask and holding a flag with CSU's logo.

Students and Alumni, Share Your Ram Story!

Ram Stories is looking for CSU undergraduate students, graduate students and recent alumni who have attended CSU at any point from March 2020 to the present. The process of sharing your story has a few steps, so we’re looking for students and alumni who can commit to actively engaging in the process of oral history, from initial meeting to interview and final review.

Storytelling is a powerful medium for enabling individual voices to become part of the public historical record and transcend time and space. This project will empower you to realize the value of your voice and lived experiences during the pandemic. By telling your own story, you’ll have an opportunity to deepen your understanding of the complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll also help the university community reflect on the pandemic’s broad impacts on the student body, the learning environment, and campus support networks.

The estimated time commitment for you to share your Ram Story is about 2.5 hours.

Scheduling Your Interview

Jade Felthoven

Jade Felthoven

Times Available:

Tuesday – 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m.
Wednesday – 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

Project Outcomes & Timeline

One of the goals of Ram Stories is to promote a broad understanding of the pandemic’s impact, so we will make the oral histories available to the public. The CSU Libraries’ University Archive will house the oral histories online and provide free, open access to recordings and transcripts. Ram Stories will also be shared publicly through Collegian TV segments and an interactive online map, which will reach a wide audience and enable them to understand the diverse experiences of CSU students during a global pandemic.

Project Phase 1: Planning & Training (Summer 2022)

  • Project planning
  • Hiring and training student interns
  • Institutional Review Board submission and training

Project Phase 2: Engagement with Campus (August-September 2022)

  • Campus stakeholder discussions and engagement to enhance student outreach
  • Promotion and outreach to students across campus
  • Pilot oral histories recorded

Project Phase 3: Documentation & Outreach (October 2022-July 2023)

  • At least 200 Ram Stories recorded and transcribed
  • StoryMap training and design
  • Oral histories and transcripts transferred to University Archives

Project Phase 4: Outreach & Access (August 2023-May 2024)

  • Production of Collegian TV segments
  • StoryMap development and distribution
  • Oral histories and transcripts available for viewing

What’s Oral History?

Oral history is a recorded conversation about your memories of the past. It differs from ordinary conversation because it’s planned, structured, and often focuses on specific parts of an interviewee’s lived experience. An oral history interviewer is trained in oral history methods. You interviewer will help to keep the conversation on track. At the same time, your interview will feel conversational and organic, and it won’t require extensive preparation on your part.

The format is designed to promote accessibility and inclusivity, and thereby to capture the diverse student voices at CSU. 

A Note About Mental Health

The Ram Stories Covid-19 Oral History Project seeks to understand the wide-ranging impacts of the COVID pandemic on students’ wellbeing and sense of self. The COH research team will ask questions that invite students to reflect upon the pandemic’s impact on their academic engagement, personal, familial, and community relationships, career goals, and mental and emotional health. It is important, however, for all those who are interviewed to know that the researchers for this project are not mental health professionals but, rather, History faculty and students. We cannot offer therapeutic services for on-going mental health challenges or trauma. We urge any student in need of therapeutic intervention related to the mental and emotional challenges of Covid-19 to reach out to the experts available at CSU and in the larger community. The CSU Health Network offers Mental Health and Well-Being Resources for Students.

Meet the Team

Jade Felthoven, Student Intern

Ruth Alexander,
Primary Investigator,
Public Lands History Center

Mark Shelstad,
Head of Digital and Archive Services,
CSU Libraries

Contact Us

For questions about the project, or to schedule an oral history interview, please contact Mark Shelstad. Students who wish to schedule an interview will be asked to choose an interview time via a Doodle Poll.

Project Partners

Ram Stories is a collaboration between the Colorado State University Libraries and the Colorado State University Public Lands History Center. Funding was generously provided by the Office of the President.

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