Westborough Local History Pastimes – For the Week of May 4, 2020

pas·time – /ˈpasˌtīm/ – noun

  1. an activity that someone does regularly for enjoyment rather than work; a hobby. “his favorite pastimes were shooting and golf [and local history!]” (Source: Lexico – https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/pastime)

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Help Us Document Life During the Coronavirus Pandemic!

As we keep up our social distancing during the pandemic, I hear over and over again that “we are witnessing history.” Well, we are always witnessing history, but it is also true that some events have a greater impact on our lives than others. What we really mean to say is that we are witnessing a significant event that will perhaps impact us for years to come, and so people in the future will want to study and understand the ways that this event changed us.

In last week’s newsletter, I bemoaned the difficulty of finding articles on the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918 in the Westborough Chronicle (more on that next week!). But wouldn’t it be great if we had an archival collection that documented how Westborough responded to that crisis? Such an archive could teach us how the people of Westborough in the past coped with their fears, made difficult decisions in an attempt to curb infections, and adapted to having their normal routines interrupted in the face of a public health emergency. By coming to understand their struggle, we might find solace in the fact that our town has already gone through something similar to what we are going through now, that we bonded together as a community, and that we came out of the crisis together to live another day.

Your response to the current pandemic is historic! Below are some ways that you can help the Westborough Historical Society and the Westborough Center collect our impressions, our experiences, and our coping mechanisms for future Westborough residents. We are indeed witnessing history, and, as always, you are an important part of creating that history! Here is your chance to help us document this history and preserve it for generations to come.

–Anthony Vaver, Local History Librarian

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Submit Your Written Reflections on the Coronavirus Pandemic! – The Westborough Historical Society and the Westborough Center for History and Culture are asking residents to write their reflections/impressions/reactions to living in this global pandemic. Here are some ideas for what to write about:

  • Discuss how the “world shutting down” has impacted you and altered your normal activities:
      • Sheltering in place
      • No sports
      • No school
      • No graduation
      • No Boston Marathon
      • No shopping
      • No restaurant dinners
    • Of interest also is daily life under these conditions: 
      • How do you spend your time at home all day? 
      • What is it like to visit the supermarket? 
      • How do you keep in contact with loved ones? 
      • How do you feel about wearing a mask or about maintaining social distancing?
    • Looking to the future:
      • What do you miss most? When do you anticipate being able to do that activity again?
      • When do you think everything will return to normal? Will it? If not, how will it be different?
      • Was there anything positive to come out of this quarantine experience? What were they? Do you anticipate these outcomes continuing into the future?

Kris Allen, Westborough’s eminent town historian, is offering to “put on her editor’s hat” and assemble our writings.

Deadline: June 1

Length: 500-750 words, or however long it takes to write what you want.

Submission: Send your reflections to Kris Allen (krisallen2@verizon.net) or submit them online by going to https://westboroughdigitalrepository.omeka.net/contribution and selecting the “Coronavirus Pandemic Written Reflection” option.

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Compulsory mask during the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918 (the design is meant as a joke).

Here Are Some Other Ways to Contribute – Writing may not be your thing, but here are some other ways to contribute content to the Westborough’s Coronavirus Pandemic Response collection:

  • Take a selfie of yourself wearing your mask. Be creative. Can you quickly add a note commenting on your mask or about what it is like to wear it? 
  • Contribute a photograph that shows how life has changed. Here are some ideas for what to photograph:
          • Empty grocery store shelves.
          • Empty Westborough streets.
          • Signs relating to the crisis.
          • People practicing social distancing.
          • Closed stores or restaurants.
  • Scan or photograph an item or object relating to the crisis.
  • Contribute a picture or cartoon.
  • Conduct an oral history with someone.
  • Take a short video showing how your life has changed.
  • Share your journal during this time (just make sure you want to make it public!).

Submit your contribution at https://westboroughdigitalrepository.omeka.net/contribution.

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Take a look at what is already included in the collection, and if you think we are missing a Westborough-related web or social media site that is taking action during this crisis, fill out this “Suggest a Web or Social Media Site” Form and we will consider adding it to the collection. 

2 thoughts on “Westborough Local History Pastimes – For the Week of May 4, 2020”

  1. I think it would be interesting to maintain an archive of Facebook posts relevant to the Coronavirus epidemic.

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