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History Can Only be Written Based on the Documentation That Exists

April 15, 2020

When IHS began the collecting initiative, Telling Your Story: Documenting COVID-19 in Indiana, our hope was to capture the experiences of Hoosiers during this historic time so their stories would be documented and preserved for future generations. Within the first week of collecting material, the response has been incredible as people from all over the state have submitted images, videos, artwork, memoirs and even songs.

Hoosiers have shared their fears, frustrations, creativity and hope: stories submitted of newlyweds quarantined on their honeymoon, videos of teachers forming a car parade to visit with their students, and accounts of the tireless efforts of medical workers. Images have been sent depicting scenes of deserted downtowns, empty parking lots, bare shelves and shoppers standing at a distance waiting to enter stores.

A teacher parade while students were forced to stay home, submitted by Robert Lugo, Noblesville

There have been many examples of how we are trying to adjust to this “new normal” – from students engaging in e-learning, to friends finding new ways to connect to each other, and the steps so many of us are taking to remain safe. These are stories that will define this time in our history and help future researchers better understand our current lived experiences.

My children saying the pledge during their morning meeting from their principal, via e-Learning, submitted by Katie McLaughlin, Zionsville

Over the next several weeks, we will continue to share some of the submissions. Materials collected will be archived in and available for use in the William Henry Smith Memorial Library at the Indiana Historical Society.

Since history can only be written based on the sources that exist, if you would like to help us document this moment our online submission form is available to add material. Please make sure to include the dates and explanation about the items. Thank you to so many of you who have contributed material and for those who plan to contribute in the future.

To illustrate the Governor’s Stay-At-Home order. Submitted by Valerie Balogh, Chesterton

Suzanne Hahn is vice president for the IHS Library and Archives. She loves helping people find the information they seek and is perhaps the only librarian ever to get shushed for laughing too loud in a library.

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