The Bedford Historical Society is calling for first-hand written testimony from residents on the impact of the current pandemic on daily life – for the enlightenment of future generations.
Executive Director Kristine Moore said it is important to have a record of “how people adapted, and how they did what they needed to do to stay safe – things that will really help bring this to life and present a personal point of view.”
She said her office will welcome written accounts of “what school is like, or anything that shows what people have been doing,” as well as “pictures of families having game nights, other things kids are doing, parents working at home and helping their kids.”
Moore recounted that seven months ago, as the coronavirus Covid-19 began proliferating in the region, her office – and Town Historian Sharon McDonald – began receiving inquiries about a precedent.
“People wanted to know how Bedford handled the flu epidemic of 1918, a subject in which I have long been interested. Going through the archives, it became really clear: there wasn’t anything.”
“We know what happened. We know Bedford survived it. We don’t know how they dealt with it,” Moore continued. “We couldn’t find anything – pictures or newspaper articles or journals,”
That experience suggests that “it might be neat to show how in 2020 Bedford is handling everything,” Moore commented. “The point is to document for future generations. Imagine someone in 70 years saying, ‘We had no idea what they did.’”
Moore said she developed the idea after conversations with historians in and around her home town of Plainville. “What towns did during 1918 — we started realizing whatever is there is very rare. We need to make sure this gets documented and preserved. We have the tools that they didn’t have 100 years ago.”
Moore said she and a volunteer are processing the submissions, making digital copies, and placing the originals in an archival container. “Items won’t be posted or shared. This is just for research purposes,” she said. Later she will consider requesting “actual artifacts that connect with this – homemade masks, for example.”
Moore, who has been the professional at the Historical Society for about 14 months, said she plans to send an appeal through the schools, “once they get settled. Rather than, ‘What I Did on My Summer Vacation,’ they can write on ‘What I Did During the Pandemic.’” She hopes to hear from a cross-section of residents. “This isn’t just directed at kids and young families. It is for anyone in Bedford who has a story to tell.”
Written accounts may be mailed to the Historical Society at 2 Mudge Way, Bedford 01730, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com, or 781-983-1763
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