Vermont Historical Society puts together COVID collection

Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 8:26 AM EDT
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - After months and months, the COVID collection at the Vermont Historical Society will keep memories of the pandemic alive.

WCAX News first told you the society was looking for journal entries, masks and other pandemic-related memories. Now, they have vaccine vials, highway signs and digital documentation.

Amanda Gustin, the director of collections and access for the Historical Society, says the collection is wide-ranging.

“It was immediately obvious to us, as it was to a lot of people right, that we were collecting as many of the stories while they were happening,” said Gustin.

Physically, members of the historical society have gathered vaccine vials as well as masks and other PPE.

They even were given one of each COVID-related sign, reminding folks to quarantine.

“People will remember this is the most restrictive version, the full 14-day quarantine,” said Gustin.

On paper, there is vaccination or testing guidance, as well as photos from the peaks, and then there is the digital archive.

“Our intent for this was to crowdsource some of the collecting, to ask people to share the things they were seeing in the world around them. To take photos, to record videos, people wrote poems, people wrote short diaries, people created art. It’s just an incredible outpouring of observations as people were looking at the world around them and realizing history is happening right now, and I am the one that gets to record it,” said Gustin.

“And you can see that sweep of how people reacted to the pandemic,” said Steve Perkins, the executive director.

Perkins says they have watched waves of submissions, physical and digital come in, following the waves of COVID-19, from novel to delta to omicron.

While it might have limited value now, the society says it will have immeasurable value in years to come for researchers.

But the work isn’t done.

“About coming out of a pandemic, that’s so important, just as important as it was in the worst of times,” said Perkins.

The historical society says they are still working on collecting some items, like the National Guard mask Gov. Phil Scott wore and the extensive medical PPE worn at the original peak, as well as hard copy journals.

But Gustin says whether it’s already been archived or is yet to come, they know the rest will be history.

“It’s still tough for us to tell what’s going to be crucially important 50 to 100 to 150 years from now for future scholars to study, so we are trying to pull together what they need,” said Gustin.

They also ask that if you want to contribute a physical object that you contact them directly and not just drop things off.

Click here to submit digital collections.

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