Writing History for the Future

You are an eyewitness to history. Write it down.

Living in a global pandemic can feel overwhelming and disorienting, and yet surprisingly boring and frustrating at the same time. This is the perfect time to start keeping a scrapbook, writing a journal, or even recording interviews. Some of us are looking for ways to fill our days (or those of our kids or parents); others are looking for ways to manage our anxiety about ourselves and those we love. Making a document of this moment is a gift both to yourself and to the future.

The future needs your history to be part of the record. As historians know, archives have tended to collect the papers of the wealthy, the powerful, and the famous. But the story of COVID-19 can also be told some day through the experiences and feelings of all those people who just tried to keep the world turning.  This is our moment to shape history. 

Keeping a diary or making a scrapbook does not have to be an overwhelming or daunting task. In fact, you might find it useful to do something like this collectively, with the help of your children, your partner, or others living in your house. You could do any of these in digital or analog form. And when you are done, consider donating it to your local or state historical society. You can even ask them to close your materials for researchers for any definite period of time – even a half a century.

I have created some guides for curating a digital scrapbook, keeping a journal, or collecting oral histories, Check out your own local historical society for more ideas if you need them. Be a historian. Write for the future.