About the Boston Collection

The Boston Collection focuses on the experiences of people living and working in Greater Boston during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis. As we work to preserve a public record of this time, we invite users to share stories, pictures, documents, and other material that illuminates how life has changed as a result of the pandemic.

What should you contribute? Anything you think might be of interest or use to future historians. What do you think best captures the impact of the pandemic on Boston’s neighborhoods, cultural institutions, universities, hospitals, and residents? We want to preserve the extraordinary moments, but also whatever ordinary objects and stories best represent the diversity of Bostonians’ daily experiences during this historical event.

Led by faculty, staff and students at Northeastern University and Suffolk University, the Boston Collection branch of the Journal of the Plague Year project is a trans-institutional collaboration. For more information about how to get involved, please contact a member of our team. For specific information about the larger project, visit the Journal of the Plague Year main website.

The Boston Collection is part of the broader Journal of the Plague Year digital archive. Inspired by Daniel Defoe’s novel of the same name, this archive also seeks to chronicle daily life during a pandemic. A Journal of the Plague Year was initiated by Catherine O'Donnell, Richard Amesbury, and Mark Tebeau in the School for Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. The Journal of the Plague Year is supported financially by the public history endowment at Arizona State University, a fund endowed by Noel Stowe. The Boston Collection is supported by Northeastern University's College of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Recent Additions to the Collection

  • Make Your Own Monument

    Webpage created by the Boston National Historical Park to celebrate the Bunker Hill Monument. The page includes instructions for kids to create their own monument that they can then decorate, and gives an explanation of the battle that the Bunker Hill Monument commemorates. The page further asks kids to reflect on "What do you want to commemorate or remember?" The pandemic has forced changes in how people commemorate important historical or cultural events, items like this illustrate how cultural organizations seek to keep these events in the public consciousness and relate them to present day issues.
  • Massachusetts COVID-19 Order No. 35

    Following the announcement of Massachusetts's reopening, this order, signed by Governor Baker on June 1, 2020, clarified the details as to how the state would progress. While some states attempted to rush their reopening in a bid for a quick economic revival, Governor Baker and his team of advisors opted for a much slower and methodical approach, especially given Massachusetts's high number of COVID-19 cases and the correspondingly high death toll. Northeastern University Northeastern University
  • Massachusetts COVID-19 Order No. 33

    As states came under pressure to reopen their economies despite the pandemic's continued presence, the Governor's Office unveiled this phased reopening plan that sought to slowly revive the economy while imposing safety measures to guard the public's health. Northeastern University
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