See and the Library Repopulation FAQs for COVID-19-specific policies and the hours page for building and service hours.

Library's Hours:
Fri 12/03 8am - 6pm

Survival Mode: SJSU Responds to Historic Crises

Person holding plant in palm of hands

Survival Mode: SJSU Responds to Historic Crises Virtual Exhibit

As unfamiliar as our experiences with COVID-19 may feel, many of the challenges we are facing are not as novel as they seem. Founded in 1857 as the oldest public university on the West Coast, the community that studies and works at San José State has found itself tasked with responding to various moments of crisis. Whether living through pandemics, wars, or climate crisis, the individuals who make up the SJSU community have responded with empathy, creativity, and resilience, sometimes in partnership with and sometimes as a challenge to university, city, and world leaders. 

Survival Mode explores the history of San José State University responding to crises with worldwide impact. Photographs, news clippings, yearbooks, and journals from the SJSU Archives, including contributions to the Spartans Speak on COVID-19 project, will provide one lens for understanding our present moment.

Unprecedented: Learning from Past Crises  

When we insist present experiences are unlike any other, we limit opportunities to learn lessons from the past that can inform today’s struggles. Politicians, journalists, friends, and family have used the word “unprecedented” numerous times over the past year to describe experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, there is a great deal of precedence and lessons to be learned from past successes and mistakes in how human society has responded to historic moments of crisis.

Moderated by Leslye M. Tinson, (Lecturer in the Departments of Psychology and African American Studies), this interdisciplinary panel of SJSU scholars features Dr. Natalie Boero (Sociology), Dr. Marcelle Dougan (Public Health), and Dr. Soma Sen (Social Work), discussing how history tends to repeat itself, especially in the treatment of marginalized communities.

Diary of a War Garden

1914 World War I

Gardening became popular during World War I and COVID-19.

Normal School Students in Masks

1918 Spanish Influenza

SJSU cared for influenza patients in 1918.


Japanese Club

1942 Japanese American Incarceration

Japanese American incarceration interrupted the lives of 115 SJSU students.


Polio Strikes SJSC

1948 Polio Outbreak

Sometimes in a crisis, staying in place is the safest choice.

A Mask for Every Occasion

1970 Climate Pollution Protests

Reasons for wearing masks appear throughout history, and not always to protect from disease.

Akila and Ta’Siyah Canton Photograph Wearing Mask

2020 COVID-19 Pandemic

We remain determined to protect our families and communities.

Support the ongoing growth and care of our University Archives by donating to the San José State University Special Collections and Archives Endowment.


Exhibit Contributors:

Carli V. Lowe, Curator

Samira Habibi, Co-Curator

Diane Malmstrom, Digital Asset Coordinator

Kate Steffens, Captions Advisor

Library Marketing Team, Marketing and Promotions