HYDE PARK — The peak of the pandemic is still ahead of us, but historians are already looking to preserve what the world is experiencing to tell future generations.
The Hyde Park Historical Society is asking for first-hand accounts of the coronavirus pandemic to archive for the future.
Physical ephemera, like signs marking businesses as closed or six-foot distance markers, can be mailed when they are no longer being used to the Historical Society’s headquarters at 5529 S. Lake Park Ave. Anything received will not be returned.
“We don’t want people’s masks and gloves or anything like that, or their medical records,” said treasurer Brigid Maniates, who along with president Michal Safar is curating the project.
Maniates noted the recent tenant organizing efforts in the neighborhood as being of particular interest to the society. Members are also interested in collecting “art, zines and other ways people are expressing themselves during this period.”
The Historical Society is focused on the former Hyde Park Township, bounded by 39th Street on the north, modern-day King Drive on the west, Lake Michigan on the east and 87th Street on the south. But members will accept responses from “anyone who would like to participate.”
The society had not received any submissions as of Wednesday evening, according to Maniates. She urged people to share their accounts, as the archive will be “a microcosm of history, but it requires people adding to it.”
“This is unique. We don’t generally have direct calls for acquiring materials,” Maniates said. “With such a unique moment, we really feel that we have to do this.”
Beyond submitting accounts to the society, Maniates said people can document their day-to-day life for their own memories through journaling, saving text messages to friends or screenshotting Zoom meetings with co-workers.
“Future generations are going to ask about [the pandemic], so it’s imperative for everyone to be able to talk about it,” Maniates said. “It doesn’t have to be a cohesive narrative, because it’s not. Showing different nuances of how this affected people will be super important in the future.”
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