What Story Will Your Object Tell?
This nurse’s veil from our collection, worn by Red Cross volunteer nurse Pauline Koonce at an emergency hospital in Wilmington, helps us interpret the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic in North Carolina. A museum staffer made these facial cloth coverings for her family recently. Do you have objects that could help us tell the many stories of the COVID-19 pandemic to future generations?
History is happening now.
Our rapid response collection project needs your help to document and preserve it, because Your Story is North Carolina’s Story. The North Carolina Museum of History is collecting objects that will help us document current events including the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent and ongoing protests against racial oppression and police brutality. These objects will help us tell the stories of today’s North Carolinians to future generations.
Objects related to COVID-19:
We are seeking artifacts that will allow us to document numerous aspects of the pandemic. Objects could include:
- Personal protective equipment (PPE), including items manufactured in North Carolina.
- Items associated with North Carolinians stricken with COVID-19.
- Items associated with frontline “essential” workers, including medical personnel, store employees, delivery workers, transportation workers, and government employees.
- Items related to COVID-19 medical research.
- Items associated with life during “quarantine,” including objects interpreting the following: shortages, working from home, schooling from home, caring for family members, exploring new hobbies, dealing with isolation, and experiencing the positives and negatives of staying at home.
- Items connected to altered “life-changing” experiences, including weddings, pregnancies and births, adoptions, and funerals.
- Items associated with cancellations and closures faced by individuals, businesses, schools, nonprofits, and religious and cultural institutions.
- Items related to workers who were furloughed or lost their jobs.
- Items linked to coronavirus volunteer efforts.
- Items associated with social distancing.
Objects related to protests:
We are seeking artifacts that will allow us to document protests across North Carolina that followed the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other African Americans. Objects could include:
- Protest signs used at Black Lives Matter protests or other protests against structural racism or protests for police reform or social justice.
- T-shirts, masks, or other clothing worn to protests.
- Protective eyewear or other protective items worn to protests.
- Items associated with the ongoing national and local conversations over race and equality that North Carolinians are experiencing.
A few important notes:
We collect objects that help us tell larger stories. We can use digital photos and videos to assist in that storytelling, but we can only accept physical, 3D items into our collection.
- For example, we might collect the props you used to film that COVID-19 video you posted online, or we might collect a social distancing sign from a local business (once it was no longer needed). But we would not collect the video without the props, or a digital image of the sign without the sign itself.
Items must have a strong connection to North Carolina or a North Carolinian to be accepted into our collection.
We can’t collect objects while we’re closed, so we’re asking individuals to save items that might make great artifacts. Feel free to record and submit information about your object now, so that we can get back in touch when we’re ready to collect.
To let us know about your potential artifact, please fill out the form below. If you are able, please also attach:
- A digital image of your object.
- Any supporting digital images showing the object in its original setting or use, or images of people using the object.
- A short video in which you record yourself telling your personal COVID-19 story in connection to the artifact. (We may use these videos in future exhibits, so please keep your video to 1 minute or less in length.)
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
To donate journals, digital photos, videos, online diaries, and oral histories, please contact the State Archives of North Carolina.
If you’re looking for some ideas, click the video block below to watch our curators share their personal artifacts and the stories behind them.