“Pandemic Stories” are intended to document the greater Cincinnati area during the COVID-19 crisis

People familiar with the hugely popular StoryCorps public radio project know the importance of preserving and sharing the stories of humanity. The Cincinnati Museum Center is committed to documenting the lives of future generations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project, titled Pandemic Stories: Greater Cincinnati and the 2020 COVID-19 Crisis, will collect and preserve details about “our community’s progress through intense upheaval and toward a potentially new normal”.

People can add their memories, stories, and more online. Over time, they may be able to provide physical items such as journals and other objects. The museum wants to hear from all ages and walks of life.

“Collecting these stories will be cathartic to many who are struggling to understand this moment and will be insightful to these and future generations,” said Elizabeth Pierce, President and CEO of the Cincinnati Museum Center. “As custodians of the region’s history, we do our part to document this moment and the stories of those who experienced it for posterity.”

The museum notes that pictures, stories and signage of the Spanish pandemic flu a hundred years ago show how this deadly outbreak – it infected 28% of the country and killed 20-50 million people worldwide – pervaded everyday life. Pandemic stories, say the creators, will similarly catalog this moment so that those who come later can learn and learn from it.

“Everyone has their own perspective on (this moment) and it affects our entire lives in very different ways,” says Pierce. “It’s only when these considerations and details are gathered and people are able to look at them across the board that you really get a feel for how the community has reacted.”

According to Pierce, the museum intends to reach out to businesses and hospitals to collect items like PPE and get information on how they needed to change the way they work.

“I think the personal stories and photos will serve as a reminder of that time and the challenges people went through and moments of hope and how we came through that experience as a community,” says Pierce. “We look forward to bringing this back to the region as we can collect these things and use them for scholarships and future exhibits to mark this moment.”

The museum works with the Cincinnati Public Schools to capture memories of senior graduates. CPS launched the Class of 2020 Legends project this week. Student experiences are gathered through videos, stories, photos, poetry, dance, and artwork. The district says more than 1,900 seniors from its 16 high schools are eligible.

“For generations, our iconic 2020 class will share their unique 2020 experience with their children, grandchildren and loved ones,” said Laura Mitchell, superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools. “We are proud of them. We honor them. And we thank them. Congratulations, class 2020. They are legends.”

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