LONG BEACH, CA – The Historical Society of Long Beach is collecting stories about the impact the pandemic has had on the Long Beach community.
The Coronavirus pandemic has forced the world to make changes to every aspect of life and the historical society is aiming to keep an archival record of how the people of Long Beach were personally affected through its survey, The Pandemic Project: Long Beach COVID-19 Stories.
The Historical Society has been conducting the online survey since May 2020 and has administered three different versions of the survey as the pandemic has continued to evolve. So far there have been around 300 replies to the Pandemic Project survey but the Historical Society hopes that even more members of the community will contribute to the project.
“We wanted to create an archive of what the pandemic experience was like here for use in the future. When looking for information about the 1918 epidemic we don’t have many of those kinds of stories so we wanted to make sure we did have them for researchers in the future,” said Julie Bartolotto, Historical Society Executive Director.
The survey aims at collecting stories that represent the diversity of Long Beach, and show the hardships that many people have had to endure since the onset of the pandemic.
“I think it also helps us to be aware of what this time was like and how it was not the same for everyone. Lots of people are saying “oh everybody’s in the same boat” but that’s not exactly right. Some people don’t have the luxury of working from home. Some people are unhoused. So, there’s a whole range of experiences,” said Bartolotto.
The survey asks a range of questions about what life has been like during the pandemic including: what kind of precautions were taken; if respondents felt safe participating in gatherings; and how school or work routines changed. The Historical Society hopes to capture how people felt during some of the most turbulent times of the pandemic.
“The pandemic also happened to coincide with so much attention being paid to social justice movements that I expect, and I hope, that we also get stories that overlap with some of those traumas and events that we have been witnessing,” said Bartolotto.
On top of the archival of survey answers the Historical Society is also collecting photography of events that took place during the pandemic, health orders put out by the city or other organizations, and materials from events that had to be canceled due to the pandemic.
The Historical Society encourages those who have already filled out the survey to participate again if new challenges arise, and will be continuing to accept more survey submissions as the pandemic persists into the new year.
By Morgan Trivitt