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New York Historical Society. PBDW architect renovations
Photograph: Courtesy New-York Hi

The New-York Historical Society wants your personal artifacts

By
Shaye Weaver
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Whether we like it or not, we are living in a historic time and now, thanks to the New-York Historical Society, we have the unique opportunity to lend our voices to how it is talked about in the future.

The museum is calling on New Yorkers to donate paper and digital ephemera that document all aspects of the current crisis, including but not limited to the heroic efforts of medical personnel; the plight of the victims; the effects on businesses, schools, and cultural groups; and the creativity borne of isolation.

That means you can hand over your flyers, postcards, small signs, small posters, application forms, emails, print-outs of emails and photos as well as household items that reflect life under social distancing measures, new products created by business and industry, artwork placed in public view and items that represent community projects and initiatives—and the stories connected to them.

Young people are also encouraged to keep and share diary entries (whether digital, analog, video or voice memo) on their experience, which they can provide using this form or email to teens@nyhistory.org.

The initiative is called "History Responds," and it first kicked off after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when curators started collecting items from downtown Manhattan. Since then, the museum has documented Occupy Wall Street, marriage equality, Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March through New Yorkers' personal effects.

"When the New-York Historical Society was established in 1804, our founders had just lived through the turbulent years of the American Revolution and recognized the need to preserve eyewitness evidence of their own historical moment," Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical, said in a statement. "In that vein, we continue the practice of documenting history as it happens so that future generations will better understand the unprecedented times in which we are now living."

Digital items can be emailed to NYHSLibrary2020Collect@nyhistory.org while physical objects and images can be submitted for consideration through its Object Donation Form and emailed to historyresponds@nyhistory.org along with related photos.

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