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

  • University Campus Dining During Covid-19

    With many indoor restrictions and social distancing rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19 cases, this year students have been choosing to dine more frequently outdoors rather than indoors. This photograph highlights how freshman year dining looked for me at Northeastern University during Covid-19. Although students are not allowed to be in large groups or eat in large groups indoors, many of us chose to eat just right outside of the dining hall. Luckily at Northeastern University's main dining halls International Village, there is a small green space park for students to gather, socialize, and eat together. This year Covid-19 has presented many difficult challenges, especially towards the reintroduction of education and a college school year. It's already hard to meet and make new friends as a freshman, but we try as best as we can to socialize wherever we can. In addition to eating, many activities and socials are also done outdoors to recreate the typical college experience in a safe manner. I'd say as students we are responsible or at least most of us try to be responsible because we are all looking forward to the day we can just be normal college students and get that normal college experience.
  • Evans Way Park

    This photo is a picture of Evan’s Way Park in Boston, MA. It is a small, however popular park because of its proximity to many residential areas and a lot of the colleges that are apart of the Colleges of the Fenway. Normally you see people walking their pets, cyclists, skateboarders, joggers, and students either hanging out or talking. However even on a perfectly sunny and cool day, it is completely empty now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic has been going on, I still see these people using Evans Way Park, but now it is not a very common sight. The most common sight is seeing the park mostly empty on any given day, with only a few people seen in it here and there. However on evenings you can still see groups of students hanging out and sitting in the park doing homework or trying to hang out. Although the park is emptier than it used to be, it is a lot quieter now and it is very peaceful if you have time to walk out to the park during the afternoon. But I don’t think the peacefulness is worth the trade off. I also enjoyed seeing Evan’s Way full and seeing groups of kids from different schools interact and have fun with each other. I have spent a decent amount of time in the park, and I miss the way it was before the pandemic started, it just isn’t the same with how it is now. Hopefully once COVID-19 is over things in Evans Way Park will go back to how they used to be.
  • Wenworth Institute of Technology Empty Main Campus

    This is a picture of the Wentworth Institute of Technology main part of campus or the “quad” as the school and its students call it. This is the main hang out area of the whole school. Every day you would see students out here hanging out, talking, playing games, relaxing, and doing homework. You would even see teachers talking to each other in between classes, or teachers helping students with work or answering questions in their free time. That how it was before, but during 2020 the quad has been a barren wasteland just like most of the city has been this year. I barely see anyone in it anymore, maybe one or two people at a time but that is it. It is because of the COVID-19 pandemic that struck the world this year. It has prevented us from hanging out with friends from the school and has taken away many things we enjoyed doing outside. The emptiness of the quad is a complete contrast to how it has been in past years. It is very sad to see since the quad is very nice and well kept, and I was used to seeing it always busy with activity. Hopefully whenever this pandemic ends, the quad will go back to how it used to be, and we will be able to see and hear the students of teachers of Wentworth in person once again.
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