Posted on April 7, 2020
“History is happening now,” says Bill Lawrence, President and CEO of the San Diego History Center, and the center wants to hear from you.
History Happening Now! Share Your Story is an initiative to engage the San Diego community and record the COVID-19 story in real-time rather than after the fact.
“We’re always looking at history,” explains Elsa Sevilla, the center’s Ambassador and Director of External Affairs. “And we’re always looking at history not only as it happened in the past but as it is happening now and how it’s going to lead us to the future.”
In terms of the current coronavirus outbreak, the center created a questionnaire available on its website that invites people to provide information and upload audio and video recordings about how the current restrictions and constraints are impacting their everyday lives. These are entries that will become part of the museum’s permanent collection, and respondents are encouraged to talk about their families and how they came to San Diego as well as their current circumstances.
“These are things people will see 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now,” says Sevilla. “But it’s also a way for people in the community to come together. We’ve seen it time and again with the fires and now with the coronavirus, how the people in San Diego are really resilient and how they come together in times of need, whether it’s checking on neighbors or shopping for elderly friends.”
In terms of recording history, the San Diego History Center is also interested in how grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and other business still open are working to ensure the safety of workers and customers. For most this is a first-in-a-lifetime experience, but “there are precedents,” Sevilla says, referring to the influenza pandemic of 1918, “and it’s something we will all get through together.”
Lawrence confirms that sentiment. “We as a community have been here before and be it a pandemic, earthquake, fire, or flood we have come through adversity. History allows us to see that innovation is in our DNA — it is one of the reasons the scientific work being done to battle this virus is being done right here in San Diego.”
When it comes to San Diego history, the center houses a collection of more than 47 million items, from documents and photographs, to artifacts, clothing, and art. It literally serves as home for our region’s history and as it says atop the new questionnaire, “Thank You for Sharing Your Memories and Reflections—They Matter to Us.” sandiegohistory.org/shareyourstory