COVID-19 has forced historians to shift from past to present so they can share stories from the pandemic with future generations.
The McLean County Museum of History is collecting stories from McLean County residents through an online portal about how the coronavirus has affected them.
Museum curator Susan Hartzold said the site includes questions such as, "What are you learning about yourself, your family and your community during this crisis?"
“While we are collecting certain kinds of experiences right now, I am sure as time passes and we continue through this epidemic some of those feelings may change and documenting that could be particularly interesting,” she said.
The museum also encourages participants to share photos, short videos or drawings that it can use for a future exhibit.
Hartzold noted the museum frequently records oral histories, so this effort isn't that different -- aside from social distancing.
“We are basically doing the same thing. We are asking people questions, we are getting responses,” Hartzold said. “We are just not doing it in person.”
Hartzold also suggested this is a good time to start a journal, even if it you don't plan to share it with anyone. The museum’s website offers suggestions to get one started.
She said the museum will keep the portal live as long as people are making entries and, since it’s anybody’s guess how long the pandemic will last, it’s unclear when these stories will ever be shared. But she said whenever that time comes, she hopes people will remember how McLean County used this time of crisis to draw closer as a community.
“I really believe that in the future members of our community will look back and say, ‘We all pulled together, we did our best to get through this and to help each other out wherever possible,'" Hartzold said.
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