Inspired by letters about daily life during past pandemics, they want to collect your stories about living through COVID-19.

Letters about daily life under the 1918 Spanish flu and 1793 Annapolis yellow fever pandemics have helped archivists and historians understand what daily life was like during these pandemics. Now, the Maryland Historical Society wants to collect your stories about life under COVID-19 in real-time.

The Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) is now cataloging stories, letters, photos, and your accounts of daily life during the coronavirus with its new project, Collecting in Quarantine, and it wants to hear from you.

"We need to be getting those collections now," says Allison Tolman, Maryland Historical Society's Vice President of Collections, "So in 100 years when another pandemic happens, people can look back on our stories and realize what was different then versus now."

MdHS is collecting stories of the pandemic in two ways: the "Letters from the Homefront" project and "Business Unusual." Submissions will become part of future collections. 

Letters from the Homefront collects personal stories about your daily life. Whether you're self-quarantined at home working through the crisis or in a service position, the project wants to hear about how the coronavirus in impacting your daily life. Submissions will become part of future collections.

Since letters tend to be a rich source of information for historians, Letters from the Homefront relies on stories you submit by email. Doctors, nurses, and service workers are especially encouraged to submit their accounts.

Your stories will be shared on MdHS blog and on social media under hashtags #LettersFromtheHomefrontMD and #CollectingInQuarantineMD.

Business Unusual collects stories and photos about your life in the workplace.

"Is your business closing or has shut its doors? Has your restaurant switched to delivery only? Is your neighborhood walk now filled with closed doors and empty windows?" says the "Business Unusual" call-to-action. "We are asking you to share your stories."

  • To contribute, submit your stories & photos at this link.

Your photos and anecdotes will be shared on social media with the hashtag #BusinessUnusualMD or #CollectingInQuarantineMD, as well as on the Maryland Historical Society blog.

“Everyone has a different lens, and that’s been very interesting,” Tolman says. “It’s hard to catalog something when we aren’t quite sure what it is. Even though we’re all going through it, a lot of people feel alone. This has given them a platform to feel like one of a large community.”

Stories from a hundred years ago are how we understand the life of individuals in the past. History is not an official fixed plot assigned by society; history is written in fragments of letters, bits, and pieces of people's lives they leave behind. So what do you say? Do you want someone to read about your story in a history book?

During the 1918 flu epidemic, someone named Blanche H. wrote, "They are talking of closing the schools on account of influenza [.] I hope they don't because I will not know what to do with myself."

A girl named Ady wrote to the New York Times in 2020, "Did you know this is getting so bad that I have to clarinet lessons on my computer?"

What do you say? Do you want someone to read about your story in a history book? Tell us in the comments!