Collecting History As It Happens

On October 1, 1918, young Charlotte Dowd wrote in her diary, "The Spanish Influenza is spreading over the country rapidly. Many are dying of it."

She also described the day's events.  Her father sold a cow, and she went to the store after school to purchase a birthday gift for her mother. Her journal entry ends with this remark, "The Women's Suffrage bill was defeated in Congress today 52-31."

The Madison Historical Society treasures the diary of Miss Dowd. It is among our most valuable artifacts.

Charlotte's simple act of recording her daily thoughts not only documented events in real time but also provided a window into the experience as it happened.

More than 100 years later, these writings help us understand the impact of that last great pandemic on the world and on our local community.

Now you can be a part of history.

Each of us alive in Madison in 2020 is an eyewitness to history. For most of us, the coronavirus is the first pandemic in our lifetime.  

If we look forward 100 years, we can imagine that the impact of the coronavirus will reach deeply into the culture of our community.

In collaboration with the Charlotte L. Evarts Memorial Archive, the Madison Historical Society is collecting artifacts and stories that document how COVID-19 has changed life in Madison in a matter of weeks. 

In this historical archive of pandemic stories, we will preserve your personal reflections, your songs and poems, and your visual art—your films, photography, drawings, and paintings. 

Through these, you can give testimony to the life we share while sheltering in place, struggling, and surviving.

The Madison Historical Society, in pursuit of its stated mission to preserve and protect Madison's history, will use these materials only as a
historical record for future researchers and scholars and for educational purposes.

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