By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(April 23, 2020) The Calvin B. Taylor House Museum in Berlin is asking residents to share their thoughts and records of the covid-19 pandemic for an archive its creating.
On Thursday, March 26, the museum’s Facebook page asked members of the community to help create “an archive of how COVID-19 is affecting lives in Berlin.” The museum is asking for voice memos, letters, diary entries, photos or other memorabilia to be used for its collection.
“As part of a larger nonprofit world of historic preservation … as soon as covid-19 began to impact nonprofits, a lot of Maryland historic preservation and several other organizations have been sending out e-mails to other nonprofits,” Melissa Reid, president of the Taylor House Museum, said. “‘How can we help each other through this? How do you make sure that you are supporting your community?’ Since the Taylor House Museum is the historical repository for information about Berlin, we thought it would be a good opportunity to integrate ourselves as a bigger part of our community.
The contributions of community members will be archived for future use at the museum, Reid said.
“I’m an art teacher at Buckingham,” Reid said. “I’ve also started sort of collecting things … the schools have been putting out projects to keep in part of the archives also, so we’re really looking for different aspects of the Berlin community and how it has affected different aspects of the Berlin community.”
The museum has archived collections dating back to the Civil War. This is not the first time the museum has collected people’s personal recollections.
“We were doing oral histories probably about 15 years ago,” Reid said. “In the beginning, it was specifically about some World War II experiences that were part of an exhibit that we did about that war about 20 years ago.
“We thought this would be another good way to sort of collect information about the coronavirus,” she continued.
“It’s not very often that you realize you’re living through something that is important. What’s special about this time is it is obviously something that is unusual and it is such a stark contrast. The times were marked so specifically when it first started, when schools were closed down, when we were told that only non-essential businesses … we have been provided with an opportunity to speak to what it is like knowing you’re living through history.”
Although the museum is looking for physical items that document the coronavirus as well, it asks people to hold onto those objects until the pandemic has lessened in severity or at least until the museum has opened. The museum typically opens during Memorial Day weekend.
In addition to the archive, the museum is also playing trivia games on its Facebook page to keep residents informed and entertained.
“We’re going to be highlighting different objects that are kind of unusual, that someone in the 1920s or even 1910s might know,” Reid said. “At the end of the month, we’re going to be sharing what these objects were used for.”
For more information, or to submit your voice memos or other stories about covid-19, email the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org.