Illinois State Museum Documenting Life During The Pandemic

Apr 9, 2020

History is happening now.  The stay at home order that is keeping us from venturing out for work and school is a unique time.  The Illinois State Museum wants to show how residents are coping.

An online tool has been launched to allow submissions to be collected for future generations.

“Things that seems so mundane that nobody wants to write them down, that's actually the thing that will be most interesting to future generations,” Erika Holst, ISM’s Curator of History said.   “What was it like? What was the parent feeling when they suddenly had to home school? What was the business owner feeling when they had to readjust their business model? What was someone feeling when they came down with COVID? What's the human story at the heart of it?”

Holst added telling the story of Illinois is what the state museum is about. 

“From the submissions we're getting, you see some just really beautiful examples of the resiliency of the human spirit and the way people are reaching out to stay connected, even if they're physically separated. So, you know, we hope that'll be a source of inspiration to people going forward.”

The effort has received photos, including one of cakes made in the shape of toilet paper and another of an inspirational sign in one neighborhood that reads “Everything is going to be OK.” Holst said personal stories, written workers, art and more is also being accepted. 

“There's nobody in the state or in the country, or probably in the world who this experience isn't touching, you know, or feel like everyone's story has value,” she said. “We're all in this together and everyone's got their experience and we want to hear them all.”