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Recording history of the pandemic

April 15, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Men wearing masks during the Spanish Flu epidemic in Canada, circa 1918.
Library & Archives Canada

By Kinjal Dagli Shah

Times of distress are perhaps as important to record, if not more, as times of joy. In keeping with that idea, the King Heritage and Cultural Centre (KHCC) has launched a project titled Collecting Covid-19: Recording history in the midst of a global pandemic.
“As the full force of COVID-19 hits North America, there has been a realization that we are amidst history in the making and as historians it is our duty to record it,” said Liza Mallyon, Collections and Exhibit Coordinator for KHCC. Mallyon points out that it is the personal stories that make history most interesting. “When the crisis comes to an end, there will be a multitude of statistics available on how it has affected the global population. But the KHCC is interested in capturing the personal experience or how COVID-19 is affecting the citizens that live in the Township of King.”
Little is known about what people went felt and thought during the 1918 Spanish flu. KHCC supervisor Erika Baird cites this difficulty in finding personal stories of the Spanish Flu Epidemic as the spark for Collecting COVID-19. “It led me to the idea of capturing the local reaction to the current health crisis for the collection at the KHCC,” she said, adding, “Ironically, as the COVID-19 crisis was unfolding we were already in the midst of studying the 1918 Spanish Flu as part of a partnership with the Aurora Museum & Archives for an upcoming exhibit. Recognizing the similarities to a century-old event, we realized that future historians would appreciate personal stories to glean a more local understanding of the pandemic.”
Although the crisis is still ongoing, there has already been some interest in the project. “It gives people a way to express their emotions and have their personal story go down in history. We hope to receive contributions from all age groups and all areas of King Township,” said Mallyon.
The information collected will be used in the future for research and/or exhibit purposes. Participants will have the option to have their stories opened immediately or closed in the archives for up to one hundred years. If you have any questions, please email



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