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Your Pandemic Story, Illustrated, Shared, and Remembered

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Seikritt, Manuel. “Super Nurse,” 2020.

The difference in the way we all view the world is beautiful in its uniqueness. The way we feel about our families, the day-to-day events, food, everything is singular. We often take this viewpoint that nobody else shares for granted. But where does it go when time has moved on? How will our stories be remembered as history is written?

The COVID-19 pandemic has united us in some ways, but the way we interpret the changes in our lives—how we feel, what we see, and how we perceive the future—are different, even among family members.

To document the many perspectives on this shared moment, the Library of Congress is rapid-response collecting many types of media that document experiences of the pandemic in the United States and inviting images from the public—including you.

One of the Library’s newest acquisitions is a collection of colorful prints from art collective Amplifier, celebrating the heroes on the frontlines as well as the compassion that we can nurture even when we’re apart.

Vergara, Camilo J, photographer. ”Jamal and his son Jamal, Willis Ave. at E. 140th St., Bronx,” 2020.

Another collection is the photography of Camilo José Vergara, who documents the effects of COVID-19 he sees in cities such as New York and Chicago. His commitment to realism shows us the raw truths of the people living through pandemics, in moments that many of us can relate to. How do people interpret the same situations differently?

Toni Lane’s artwork also joined the Library’s collections this year, and her chalk pastel drawings are as colorful as they are emotionally honest. Take in the sharp contrasts, the angles, the colors, and the varied perspectives of the drawings. How might your family members express how they feel with artwork? How can emotions turn into brushstrokes, and how might the colors express our innermost realities?

Photography, drawing, and prints are all just some of the examples of items that the Library is collecting right now; news articles, online projects, and videos are also some of the types of materials being collected. All types of stories and representations of lives matter to future historians.

Lane, Toni. “What I do all day,” 2020.

Documenting our lives is how we can find solace in shared experiences, reflect and process emotions, remember the people who share our lives, and express hope for a lighter future. If we don’t record where we are right now, who will? If we forget what we wore, what we ate, and what we saw on the street outside of our windows, who will retrieve those memories?

How are you documenting your life today? You might record your own story individually, or collaborate as a family. This is the perfect time to talk to each other, record what you share, and celebrate the uniqueness of each family member.

  1. Reflect on other’s stories:
    1. Share the images from the Library’s new collections with your family members. Which one stands out the most? Which one resonates with your own family member’s experiences?
    2. How does the artist record their reality? Can these techniques be used to record your own family’s realities?
  2. Ask each other about your own experiences, over a video call or in person:
    1. What helps you the most when you’re feeling down?
    2. What is your favorite indoor activity? Take a picture of it.
    3. What is your favorite outdoor activity? Record a video.
    4. What’s your new favorite book/show/music/game? Share it with another family member.
    5. Share one pandemic-related challenge and one positive change.
    6. What item, image, or phrase represents how you feel most frequently during the pandemic?

If you are a photographer, submit up to five images that you have captured of your pandemic life to the Library’s Flickr group. Read about this opportunity here.

Share with us how you will remember your family’s pandemic story. What is one thing you learned about another family member as you reflected on the stories collected by the Library or discussed the changes in your life with each other?


Comments (2)

  1. I’m in a disability & senior building with over 300 videos documenting the pandemic horrors, including 60+ patients being taken out of here by ambulance or refrigerated trucks. The contest you are holding clearly wants censored, Walt Disney family pics & videos.

    It is insulting that EVERYONE is focused on the “positive, healthy people’s” perspective: “oh, boo hoo, Gov. Polis won’t let us go jogging!”; “Be sure to keep liquor stores & marijuana dispensaries open, they are essential!”. All of this bs is going on & on the news while doctors have quit & abandoned the Colorado patients, etc. Stop calling them “heroes”! I call them selfish hypocrites who forgot their Hippocratic, now-extinct Oath. If they don’t want to practice, take away their license!

    If you know of a REAL documentarion who wants the truth, the whole truth & nothing BUT the truth of what’s REALLY going on in Denver, Co.,USA, feel free to forward my email address.

  2. I assigned a Pandemic Photo Documentary assignment to my middle school special needs students. It was a collaborative complilation of of pictures that show what their lives have been like during this pandemic. Their pictures were then put into a power point and converted to a video. We’d like to submit the completed video to the Library of Congress. The unique nature of this video is that my special needs students don’t always have a voice (some are non-verbal), but can still tell their story through photography. Here is the video: Is this something that you’re looking for?

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