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

  • Sidewalk art in Brookline, MA

    Sidewalk chalk art by children seen in Brookline, Massachusetts. The art says "Summer Is Coming!"; "Thank You Doctors And Nurses!"; and "Show You Care By Distancing!"
  • "The Plan Won't Accomplish Anything..." (Great Scott, RIP)

    On May 1, 2020, the manager of Allston music venue Great Scott announced that the club would not reopen. In the days that followed, residents gathered in front of the doors to mourn its loss and share memories. On the blackboard used to advertise each night's bands and set times, someone wrote "The Plan Won't Accomplish Anything If It's Not Implemented," a lyric from the Built To Spill song, "The Plan" (from the 1999 album, Keep It Like A Secret). Built To Spill is not from Allston (they are from Boise, Idaho), but they are a seminal indie rock band and a formative influence for many musicians and fans who frequented Great Scott. The sign also reads "Allston Rock City" and "Thanks!" One of Allston's nicknames is "Allston Rock City."
  • "Allston Is Dead": Great Scott, RIP

    On May 1, 2020, the manager of Allston music venue Great Scott announced that the club would not reopen. In the days that followed, residents gathered in front of the doors to mourn its loss and share memories. During that period, someone tagged "Allston Is Dead" here, a sentiment expressing frustrations about how the neighborhood had changed over the years due to rising rent, gentrification, and other factors.
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