Listen Live

SEATTLE – One day soon the images of how we are living through the COVID-19 pandemic will be history. And the state of Washington wants a record of them.

The Washington State Historical Society wants them for future historians. But they need to collect them now.

So they are sending out the call to all Washingtonians to contribute.

It’s almost too good to be true. With your cellphone you could become part of history, at least the history of COVID-19, courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society.

To historians, these ordinary images of how people coped during this deadly pandemic will be precious artifacts from a distant time 100 years from now.

But in order to have them then, the state wants your help collecting them now.

“What do you think that scholars and and researchers in a hundred years’ time are going to want to know about what we’re going through in this collective global experience?”

Maggie Wetherbee, the historical society’s head of collections, is asking that question. And she says anything goes.

“Pretty much.”

Wetherbee says historians are always interested in how lives are being lived. And some people are already answering the call.

“I think we’re in a really unique situation here,” she says, “because we’re able to share in the experience digitally better than any time that we’ve ever had.”

Indeed, if historians hadn’t collected and saved these pictures, there would be no images of how this state’s citizens endured the 1918 pandemic — dubbed erroneously as the Spanish flu.

And, says Wetherbee, whatever is sent could end up on display at the Washington State History Museum, after the pandemic ends, of course.

“So if it’s your kids recording their home diaries, video blogs,” suggests Wetherbee, “or it’s your grandma skyping to you for the first time learning how to stay connected to family, we’re interested.”

That includes the “essential worker” papers that some people have. All of it will tell people in 2120 what life was like now.

There’s a link here for anyone who wants to add their images to the COVID-19 collection.