Capturing Quarantine Oral Histories
Interview with Elaine Greiner



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Elaine Greiner (she/they) was born in Des Moines, Iowa. She grew up an only child of divorced parents living in the city of Des Moines. Throughout their high school career, Greiner was a proud member of the Sharks, the school’s synchronized swimming team. In the spring of 2017, Greiner graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School. Follow graduation, Greiner continued their studies in Illinois by enrolling in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s fashion program and at the end of her sophomore year, Greiner transferred to the fashion program at Columbia College Chicago. In the spring semester of 2020, she secured a summer internship with Cynthia Rowley in New York City and lived and worked in Chicago during the spring semester. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Greiner was urged by her family to return home. After seeing her roommate return home to Taiwan amidst the outbreak, Greiner drove back to Iowa. She continued with her studies at Columbia and hopes to graduate in 2021.

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Columbia College Chicago




fashion, Iowa, COVID-19, pandemic, Chicago, Illinois, United States, coronavirus

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Arts and Humanities | Education | History | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


In this interview, Columbia student Elaine Greiner (she/they) recounts her experiences with COVID-19. The interview begins with Greiner describing her childhood and adolescence in Des Moines, Iowa. Greiner mentions her time at Theodore Roosevelt High School as member of the school’s synchronized swimming team. And she reflects on what her expectations were at the time of graduation. She describes her pursuit of higher education, enrolling in the fashion program of the Art Institute of Chicago. Greiner explains her decision behind transferring to Columbia College Chicago and the impact it has had on their career aspirations.Greiner reflects on government response to the pandemic, and how her financial situation has been impacted in response. She mentions being laid off as restaurants around the city of Chicago closed their doors. Throughout this interview, Greiner clarifies her gratitude for her situation, acknowledging that her circumstances could be much more dire. She briefly mentions her roommate, an international student who had to quickly decide whether or not they would return to Taiwan. But Greiner also takes the time to reflect on what spending weeks in quarantine has taught her. Lessons about both society as a whole, and who she is as a person within it.

Conducted in spring 2020 by an Oral History: The Art of the Interview student, this interview with a fellow student in the class reflects on the pandemic and how it impacted their life. The interview is conducted based on the life history approach to oral history.

Interview with Elaine Greiner