Record History as it Happens

With COVID-19 changing the world we live in, we are in a time of ‘history happening now’.

I’m sure you’ve seen the suggestions about keeping a diary to record life and times of our ‘present normal’, and that is certainly a great idea. I mean low petrol prices, lack of toilet paper, only going out for necessities, closed restaurants, closed schools, closed gyms, closed entertainment venues, Anzac Day services around the country cancelled, all sporting events cancelled, even the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Then of course all the genealogy and history societies have been temporarily as well, with a number of them no embracing online seminars instead. But also don’t forget about self isolating and social distancing. I’m sure your kids or grandkids would love to read your thoughts on how you survived being cooped up at home for weeks. Maybe you got hooked on jigsaw puzzles, or decided to master making bread, or created your own vegie garden for the first time ever, or the family drove you crazy??!

The list could go on.

But I also know not everyone is a diary writer … so there are ways other than writing, that you can record and share “history as it happens” as well.

So here I’m letting you know about a number of organisations that are wanting to “record history as it happens” but they need your input to do so. They are collecting your photographs, memories, and ephemera (some physical, some digital), all which will help document this incredible once-in-a-lifetime event that we’re currently living in.

Canberra: National Library of Australia
The National Library of Australia has been busy collecting web-based ephemera relating to COVID-19, by taking snapshots of websites and archiving them. You can view their collection here.

Canberra: National Museum of Australia
The national Museum of Australia is inviting all Australians to share their experiences, stories, reflections and images of the COVD-19 pandemic to record it as it happens. Through the Facebook group “Bridging the Distance – Sharing our COVID-19 Pandemic Experiences” the National Museum of Australia is collecting stories, objects, images and videos to “explore and mark this time in a joint effort with you to help make sense of what is happening around us and to connect us all socially and emotionally, while we are physically distant”.

New South Wales: State Library of New South Wales
The State Library of New South Wales is requesting that you don’t throw out any brochures, posters, signs etc. that relate to COVID-19, as they would like them for their collection. Their announcement is as follows … “We are collecting posters, flyers and mail-outs appearing in our local neighbourhoods in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many people will eventually discard this material, it provides invaluable information about this significant event impacting our community and nation. The State Library collects this ephemeral material, as well as online content including websites, digital ephemera and social media posts, to help tell our stories to future generations.”

Queensland: Cairns Museum and Cairns Historical Society
How will future generations know what the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis meant for Cairns? The Cairns Museum is hoping to answer that question by drawing on the community to help collate, document and share their experiences in real time. Suzanne Gibson, manager of Cairns Museum, said documenting first-hand accounts allowed the Cairns Museum and Cairns Historical Society to build a collection that would help future generations understand the experiences and impacts of the coronavirus in Cairns. The project is seeking to capture a wide cross-section of local people, ages and backgrounds. “We need help for this – this is a community collecting project in real time to gather an intangible personal record of the virus and its impacts on the personal lives of local people. Would you be willing to share your experience in a video diary of your or your family’s COVID experience? Are you currently keeping one? We are also looking for objects, images, ephemera and multimedia generated by this period of personal and professional lockdown.” For more information click here.

Queensland: State Library of Queensland
The State Library of Queensland, are creating a digital collection of COVID-19 related records. They ask “Has your local pizza place emailed you about what they’re doing to stop the transmission of coronavirus? Has your gym closed temporarily? Has your church or soccer team contacted you about COVID-19? The State Library of Queensland is collecting any COVID-19-related emails you may have received from local businesses or community groups. These emails are digital ephemera that capture a slice of the pandemic experience. If you have received emails like this, please forward them to so we can preserve them to document community responses to COVID-19.” They just ask when forwarding to SLQ can you please put ‘COVID-19 Collection’ in the subject heading. You can read more about that here.

South Australia: State Library of South Australia
The State Library of South Australia have created a new Facebook page titled “Remember my story – Covid-19“. They write … “Years from now we’ll look back and want to know how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted our state, our communities and our families. Make your voice part of our archive by joining the Facebook page and sharing your story”.

South Australia: Tea Tree Gully Library
For those who live in the Tea Tree Gully area, the local library is aiming to collect and preserve the moments of history during this time. If you have any posters, flyers, mail-outs or photographs relating to the Tea Tree Gully area during the lockdown we would love to have them. They are also want to know how you’re going, and ask you to tell them how you’re feeling and what you’re doing so they can record it for their history records. It can be anonymous, or you can choose to include your name to go down in history – whichever you prefer! You can find a link to their questionnaire here.

Tasmania: Tasmanian Archives & Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
The Tasmanian Archives (a part of Libraries Tasmania), and Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), are partnering to collect Tasmanians’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are reaching out across Tasmania to collect photographs, writing and a variety of objects that document the community’s experience of COVID-19. Your contributions will help capture this moment to help future generations understand the Tasmanian experience of the pandemic. You can read more about it here.

Victoria: State Library of Victoria
The State Library of Victoria has created “Memory Bank” to document this time. They describe it as “… a long-term collecting project that invites you to share your everyday observations of pivotal moments in time. Extraordinary moments, and ordinary ones too, can easily be lost in the day’s blur or forgotten in a week’s time. So each week we are going to invite you, our citizen collectors, to undertake a specific task or respond to a prompt. We’re calling on all Victorians to join us as we inaugurate the Memory Bank to archive what everyday life in Victoria is actually like now, during this time of collective isolation. Daily life is different for each of us during this period of restrictions and physical isolation, and we’re intensely curious about what this moment looks like for you.” For more details about SLV’s memory Bank, click here.

Western Australia: State Library of Western Australia
The WA State Library is seeking material relating to the COVID-19 pandemic to add to their collection. These items are things that reflect the social response to COVID-19 and the changes to services and the community in Western Australia. If you have taken any photographs or have other material such as flyers, leaflets, community notices, stickers or posters that you would like to offer to SLWA, please get in touch with them by email or phone (08) 9427 3111.

New Zealand: Auckland Museum
Across the ditch, Auckland Museum has put the call out for objects and ephemera “that reflect the various ways this pandemic has impacted and changed the lives of Aucklanders. We are interested in objects, photographs and documents that reflect: life in lockdown; how we are connecting and creating community while in a state of quarantine; issues we are debating; personal protective equipment and how we are protecting ourselves; creativity while in lockdown. For more on this, click here.


So help create a little history by recording your thoughts, memories of our current times as we live through this pandemic. Or take photos of your local area, the signs in shops, the empty streets, or save COVID-19 ephemera and pass it on to the local archives.

Stay inside, and stay safe.

One Response to “Record History as it Happens”

  1. Crissouli says:

    Congratulations! Your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    Thank you, Chris

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