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Tell Your Coronavirus Story

Washington’s coronavirus history will be notable as one of the first pandemic hot spots in the United States.

Margaret Wetherbee hit the ground running at the Washington State Historical Society, joining the organization days after its buildings closed due to safety protocols around the coronavirus pandemic. “My first day included developing a remote working plan for the Research Center team,” said Wetherbee. “Now, I’m reaching out to citizens across the state to ask for their participation in documenting this historic event for the Historical Society’s collections. We want to capture what you’re going through right now as it unfolds, because this is an extraordinary time in our history. We will continue to collect as we experience the impacts over the coming years.”

Washington’s coronavirus history will be notable as one of the first pandemic hot spots in the United States. The Historical Society’s director, Jennifer Kilmer, remarked, “Future Washingtonians will research these days, asking how we coped with the suddenly vacated office buildings, curtailed services and medical supply shortages. They’ll want to know how this event impacted our lives on a personal level. Just as we are now looking to the 1918 flu epidemic for insight into our present experience, folks in the future will want to know about our Stay Home/Stay Healthy protocol, and how we managed to come together to help one another.”

With this in mind, the Washington State Historical Society wants to hear from you. “You are living through a historic event and we want to caption your stories,” proclaims the Society’s website (www.washingtonhistory.org/research/collections/yourCOVIDstory/). “The COVID-19 pandemic is generating world-wide impacts and will have enduring repercussions. Help capture this event as it unfolds. Each person’s story adds a unique thread in recording this global event.” You can play a part in documenting COVID-19 history for the future.

The Historical Society can accept digital input now, like digital photographs, audio and video clips, screenshots of social media posts, reports, correspondence, observations and anecdotes about the pandemic. They eventually want to collect physical objects and ephemera (home-made masks, coronavirus closure notices, decals, diaries, letters, etc.), but are asking that you gather and save objects until their Research Center reopens. For details, see WashingtonHistory.org/yourCOVID19story

“At Washington State Historical Society, I will work to preserve the diverse stories of my home state, and ensure we are moving the collection forward through digitization while also collecting in new ways as we are doing during this pandemic,” Wetherbee said, inviting all Washingtonians to contribute to the collections and offer ideas about what the Historical Society should collect by emailing DigitalArchive@wshs.wa.gov.