Wisconsin Historical Society looks to capture history during pandemic

Wisconsin Historical Society collects stories about the pandemic as they are happening.
A shopper wears a mask as she pushes her cart to her car in the parking lot of Walmart in Superior Friday, April 3. (Jed Carlson /

The story to be written by future generations about the COVID-19 pandemic will be told by more than numbers and will reflect the countless ways the battle to curb the spread of new coronavirus changed everyday life for people.

The Wisconsin Historical Society is hoping document that history as it’s made with the COVID-19 Journal Project.

The goal of the project is to document living experiences during the pandemic for people to look back on 100 years from now, said Christian Overland, Ruth and Hartley Barker director and CEO of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

“Please write down your thoughts in a book, or a paper, or you could have a video blog or a photograph,” Overland said. “We’re asking people to put them together in increments of 30, 60 and 90 days. And we’re going to collect those.”

Journal entries should provide a summary of people's days, and over time, document how the pandemic has impacted their lives, their families and their perspectives of the world.


A journal project is how the Wisconsin Historical Society developed its Civil War archive.

The society’s founding director, Lyman Draper, met with soldiers at Camp Randall in Madison in 1861. Draper gave them journals and pencils and asked them to write down their thoughts about the battles, their home communities and what they left behind, Overland said.

“And when those heroes came home to Wisconsin, they mailed those journals to the Wisconsin Historical Society and created one of the greatest American archives of the Civil War, especially documenting a Civil War soldier's life,” Overland said.

More than 150 years later, it’s an archive that is used today, he said.

People can sign up to share their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic at .

A customer uses the walk-up window in the rain as cars wait in line at Superior Choice Credit Union in Superior Friday, April 3. The lobby was closed to members because of the pandemic. (Jed Carlson /

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