Today’s Events are Tomorrow’s History: Wisconsin Historical Society Seeks Hospital COVID-19 Stories & Artifacts

June 04, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented demands on our state's hospitals and health systems, the Wisconsin Historical Society is asking hospitals to consider how various resources being used every day could be viewed in the future as powerful historical artifacts. As the Society mentioned in conversations with WHA about this project, “just as we are looking back at the 1918 influenza epidemic for insights today, observers in the future will want to know what we experienced in 2020.”
The Society wants to collect objects and stories that speak to the professional demands of fighting the pandemic, as well as the personal challenges of coping with stress, uncertainty and isolation. They are interested in clothing and PPE worn by nursing, medical and maintenance staff; instruments used to diagnose and treat patients (touch free thermometers, ventilators, etc.); and objects used to maintain morale and communicate with patients, family members, and the public (signs, decorated face shields, superhero T-shirts, etc.). The Society is also interested in digital or paper documents that show procedures and concerns, photographs of people or events and voice or video recordings that capture the first few months of the pandemic. 
If you had a memorable experience responding to the pandemic and can think of an artifact, photo or document that expresses that moment, the Society would like to hear about it. Please send questions or suggestions to David Driscoll, the Society’s Curator of Economic History, at
The Society also invites participation in the COVID-19 Journal Project – an initiative to help capture history of the moment similar to how the Society gave journals to Wisconsin’s Civil War soldiers stationed at Camp Randall in 1861.

This story originally appeared in the June 04, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter