SHERIDAN — How are you celebrating the holidays this year? Will you be creating menus with friends and family to share the experience via Zoom? Will you be hosting a Netflix party to watch a holiday classic film?
As the pandemic continues to impact our lives, the Wyoming State Archives and State Museum, the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center and Wyoming State Historical Society are working together to preserve your experiences and encourage communities to take photographs, write stories, create artwork, interview friends and family and tell us how you lived through this historic time and celebrated the holidays with friends, family and loved ones.
Do you keep a journal or a blog? Have you created your own mask for making essential trips outdoors? Are you creating artwork or craft projects to commemorate or pass the time? Are you talking on Facebook or Instagram with your friends about how this pandemic has affected your life? Have you considered recording a conversation with family members about their COVID experiences?
Preserving those memories are all ways that you can remember this time for yourself and give future historians clues about how we coped, how we communicated — and how we memed.
These representations are also a good way to connect with others in our community. The AHC, Wyoming State Archives and Wyoming State Museum will be sharing submissions on a shared online platform in the upcoming months. This online platform will allow our community to see, hear and understand how others in our rural state are coping with social distancing and the unknown future.
If you’re writing down your thoughts, please consider donating a copy to the State Archives or the AHC. If you prefer to reflect on social media, use the hashtag #COVID19WY so staff can pull together all the tweets and posts later. That includes Instagram photos of empty streets, teddy bears in windows or masked get-togethers.
If you’ve used your crafting skills to make PPE masks, signs or documenting your feelings visually, the State Museum is interested in hearing from you, and you may see those objects someday in an exhibit about the challenges of life in 2020.
Why is it important to preserve these memories and experiences now? Partly because it is fresh in our minds, and partly because we don’t want Wyoming’s story and the lessons we learn through this crisis to go untold.
You may be reading stories about the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Historians learned about this devastating time through personal stories and photographs, as well as official accounts and newspaper articles of the time. Letters, diaries, photos and artifacts speak volumes about the courage, fear and community support people experienced.
Thanksgiving is a great time for sharing family memories and recording conversations with the older generation. Will you be missing your usual family gatherings, or gathering in a different way, such as by virtual platforms? If you’re looking for help in how to conduct a COVID memory conversation, staff compiled questions and tips online at wyoarchives.wyo.gov/index.php/find-it-in-the-archives/oral-history-collection.
The Wyoming State Archives collects, manages, and preserves Wyoming state public records that have long term administrative, legal and historical value documenting the history of our state and the activities of Wyoming’s government offices. The Archives also collects non-government records that contribute to an understanding of the state’s history.
The Wyoming State Museum’s mission is to serve as an educational, historical, and cultural institution, whose goal is to collect, preserve, and interpret artifacts that reflect the human and natural history of Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West.
The AHC is responsible for maintaining the University’s Archives, and for collecting, preserving, and disseminating the historical documentation of select aspects of cultural heritage at the local, state, national, and even international levels.
Their mission is to support the administrative and educational curriculum of the University by enabling historical research and interpretation across a broad spectrum of interests and disciplines.