We are living in historic times. When future generations ask what it was like during the coronavirus pandemic, History Colorado wants to be able to answer in Coloradans' own words.
The state’s historical society is collecting stories about life in the time of an outbreak that has closed schools, isolated people in their homes and left millions out of work almost overnight.
“It's history in the making,” said Jason Hanson, History Colorado's director of interpretation and research.
History Colorado is hearing from all corners of the states, and all walks of life. A Durango woman called to lament the absence of tourists, and her concern for the economic health of her town. A high school teacher expressed sadness that seniors won’t get to have a graduation ceremony, or go to prom.
And parents are all over the map. A man who lost his job reveled in being able to teach his daughters to ride their bikes, while a mom admitted her family is struggling to focus on their kids' schooling while simultaneously trying to work from home.
“People I think have been just incredibly honest, sometimes heartbreakingly honest,” Hanson said.
Technology will make a difference in how this pandemic is remembered. Alongside traditional ways of noting experiences, like journal entries and surveys, History Colorado wants emails, cellphone pictures and voicemail messages. Hanson expects more ordinary experiences to be recorded than during the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918.
“In so many ways our understanding of that event, and really of much of history, has been shaped by those who had access to a microphone, or could get their views published,” Hanson said. “And today, we really have the tools to ensure that so many other voices shaped the story of how we put this pandemic into the past.”