The Michigan History Center, through the Archives of Michigan and 12 museums and historic sites around the state, preserves and shares information about our state’s past through exhibits, programs, online resources and more.
We also collect and preserve the documents, images and objects that will help future generations understand our present. There is no question that the coronavirus emergency that is so deeply affecting all our lives is a significant history-making time.
When we look back at what the state collected during the 1918 influenza epidemic, we find government records, but few glimpses into what the crisis meant on a personal level.
Our hope is that the record we preserve in 2020 will help future generations understand what it felt like to live through this time. Our goal is to collect the stories of diverse Michiganders from across the state, and we need your help.
We are partnering with the Detroit Free Press to collect your photos, videos and audio files that document your daily lives now. The materials collected may be preserved in the Archives of Michigan’s collections.
The Archives of Michigan is collecting photographs and videos at our digital project website. You can upload your submission there or submit it on your public Instagram or Twitter feeds or on the Michigan History Center Facebook page using the hashtag #MICOVID19Story. (See the project's terms and conditions.) The website includes an image gallery that allows others to see what people are posting, in real time. We hope the shared experiences will also strengthen our state’s sense of community and reduce feelings of isolation
The Detroit Free Press will assemble recordings to be shared in an audio series called We Lived It, and send them to the history center for archival use. Stories based on the effort also will be written for the newspaper. Audio stories can be submitted in 3-minute tales at 313-288-0370 or by emailing email@example.com. You can hear full episodes of the We Lived It series at your favorite podcasts app or visit freep.com.
Not sure what to submit? Maybe one of these questions will help spark some ideas:
Once the need for social separation has passed, we will collect objects and conversations that broaden and deepen Michigan’s story. In the meantime, we are encouraging you to help us identify the kinds of things we should collect.
Three-dimensional objects and artifacts make up the Michigan History Museum collections. We are seeking items that represent daily lives of Michiganders before, during and after the crisis. Here are some examples of objects the museum may be interested in collecting:
To donate an object:
Documents, manuscripts, photographs and digital materials (like video and audio recordings) make up the Archives of Michigan collections. Like the museum collections goals, we are seeking materials that document daily lives of Michiganders before, during and after the crisis. Here are some examples of items the archives may be interested in collecting:
To donate an item:
We are committed to collecting stories for the long term. We understand that, for some Michiganders, today’s experiences are currently too raw to document. We also understand that some of the best materials come out of periods of reflection, after an immediate crisis has passed. We look forward to engaging with you on a timeframe that meets your needs.
We thank you for your participation and we look forward to preserving your stories in our museum and archival collections.
Questions about the project? Contact Tobi Voigt, community engagement director, at VoigtT@Michigan.gov.