Nebraska History Museum Gathering Everyday Items for COVID-19 Collection

June 10, 2020, 6:45 a.m. ·

Items donated to the Nebraska History Museum for the COVID-19 collection (Becca Costello, NET News)

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As Nebraskans work through the challenges of everyday life, historians are already working to preserve these experiences for future generations.

The Nebraska History Museum is gathering items for a COVID-19 collection. Collections Registrar Jordan Miller explains how the collection got started and some of the items they've gathered so far:

"The Covid collection started right about mid-March when things were kind of starting to heat up in Nebraska and my supervisor and I knew that this was big and we needed to do something about it.

One thing that we're really trying to get is pieces that show the creativeness that people are taking to show their friends and family that they care, and that they love them. And that's as simple as a donut on a front porch. Or, we also got some signs that some folks took to their mom who was at Madonna. They couldn't physically be with her on Mother's Day, and they made signs to hang in their window.

People forget things really easily, and even though things are digital those digital pieces still hold a lot of meaning; like the artwork people are creating and the videos that people take time and effort to do, those have a really big impact.

Journal Entry: 17-year-old

"I go to school in Arthur, Nebraska and for this little part of the world it has shown us what community can do. I live on a ranch so being in quarantine hasn't affected working much. We are up by 7 every morning feeding animals and doing chores. Then we come inside and balance our homework throughout the day. I am also a part of the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association and most of our rodeos have been cancelled. This has affected me the most. I am at home practicing and preparing each day for when we finally get to have a rodeo."

When I went to Sandy's this weekend to get the half gallon of Elk Creek water, the woman was like, you're going to do what with this? And it's like yeah, this is literally going into a museum. Like what you are doing might not seem like history but this is this is it, you're making history.

One of the things that we've collected that has been the most surprising is the response to the children's journals.

Kids worrying about their parents losing their farms because the wheat prices are going down, or people being separated from their parents because their folks are choosing to not go home because they're working with so many people and they don't want to put their other families at risk. And kids that are really really aware of the big picture of what's going on in the nation, and it's heartbreaking.

I know it's going to matter to Nebraskans in the future, and I want them to be able to understand how people experienced this. How individuals experienced it, how businesses and business owners have experienced it.

And I want them to be thankful that we went to the lengths that we did to tell the full and complete story. And that's why we want to have every sector, every person, every race, in the collection so we don't have those missing pieces."

How to donate to the collection:

How has your home and work life changed? How has your community reacted and responded? History Nebraska is seeking objects, photos, journal entries, and other media to document the views and responses of Nebraska individuals, businesses, organizations, and communities.

Details are online:

This story is part of a special episode of Speaking of Nebraska that features the stories of Nebraskans impacted by COVID-19. The episode also includes a discussion about recent protests in Nebraska and across the world concerning police violence and systemic racism. Watch the full program below: