The State Historical Society is asking Iowans to help document the pandemic for future generations.
“We are inviting Iowans to capture the stories of COVID-19 and its impact, its ripple effects on everyday life here in Iowa,” said Michael Morain, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.
Iowans may submit items electronically now — things like photos, videos and written materials in digital form. Once the state historical museum reopens to the public, they’ll begin accepting physical artifacts.
“Usually we don’t get the chance to recognize history or historical turning points as we’re living through them,” Morain says. “Usually it requires a little bit of hindsight, but I think people realize that this spring the world is changing and it’s changing here in Iowa in ways that are different than in New York or California or Italy or China.”
Curators hope items like masks, canceled stimulus paper checks and gallon jugs of hand sanitizer will help illustrate the story of this pandemic a century from now — just like items in the Historical Society’s vault from the flu pandemic of 1917 and ’18 have,
“We have medical supplies. We have photos from Camp Dodge where soldiers that were getting ready to ship off for World War I were struggling in dire straights…with the flu,” Morain said, “so we get a sense of what that looked like.”
Soldiers began getting sick in October of 1918 and by the time the illness had run its course, more than seven-hundred soldiers had died. Camp Dodge, at the time, was about a dozen miles away from the city of Des Moines. The city’s board of health closed schools, churches and other gathering spots.
Here’s the information about submitting material about the COVID-19 pandemic.