History Responds >
Our History Responds initiative collects history as it's unfolding. In an effort to preserve historically important moments for future generations, the New-York Historical Society seeks relevant materials during or immediately following major events like celebrations, protests, and natural disasters.
While we have collected materials reflecting contemporary events since our founding in 1804, we launched History Responds in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001. New-York Historical’s president at the time, Kenneth T. Jackson, urged staff to take the lead in capturing the history that was all around them.
Since September 11, History Responds has documented Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter protests, the 2017 Women’s Marches, March for Our Lives, and the Climate Strike, among other events.
Current Collecting Projects
We are collecting materials related to both the COVID-19 pandemic and its sudden disruption of lives around the world, and the Black Lives Matter protests that have sprung up around the country in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd and other Black Americans. Our focus is on New York and the surrounding region and our goal is to document all aspects of these crises.
Future generations will want to understand what it was like to live through this period.
To tell these stories, we need your help. Consider donating a meaningful item today.
Black Lives Matter Protests
We're interested in items that relate to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the subsequent protests that his death and others ignited across the nation and around the world, and the ongoing movements against police brutality and systematic racism.
- Are you observing the protests and taking photographs of your favorite signs?
- Are you participating in the protests and creating your own signs, flyers, posters, or hand-painted T-shirts?
- Are you collecting signs and placards or leaflets and flyers about upcoming protests?
- Are you wearing masks with political messages or protective eyewear in case of pepper spray or tear gas?
We're interested in items related to the pandemic and quarantine, including the heroic efforts of healthcare and other essential workers; the experiences of the sick; the effects on businesses, schools, and cultural groups; and the creativity borne of isolation. What items—no matter how modest or mundane—tell the story of the COVID-19 pandemic to you?
- Are you keeping a diary, making lists, or taking photographs that reflect sheltering in place?
- Do your food-delivery menus, apartment-building notices, or neighborhood flyers reference the pandemic?
- Have you gotten COVID-19 mass emails from banks, restaurants, or rental car companies?
- Are you drawing, making collages, or painting?
We don’t want to remove critical resources in this time of need, and we can’t guarantee that we’ll take everything that’s offered to us. But if it’s an item you can spare, and you believe it’s worth preserving, fill out this form and begin the donation process.
Have questions? Need assistance? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
History Responds in the news:
"This Year Will End Eventually. Document It While You Can." New York Times
"History in the Moment: Museums Begin Chronicling Coronavirus Pandemic" Wall Street Journal
"Why Museums Are Collecting Artifacts From the Black Lives Matter Protests as They’re Happening" Artnet News
"How Museums Will Eventually Tell the Story of COVID-19" Atlas Obscura
Some of the objects collected through History Responds: (Top, from left) The hard hat of Lt. Mickey Kross, a firefighter with Engine 16, who was rescued from the rubble of Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, and then worked at the site for months afterwards. 2003; A stenciled flag from Occupy Wall Street. 2011. Gift of Margi Hofer. A recent find surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Lizzy (age 4) with her rainbow artwork. Photography by Leeka Murphy. (Bottom) A New York City Transit service notice from the week after September 11. Patricia D. Klingenstein Library. (Front-page carousel image) "This Too Shall Pass" painted rock by Lisa Johansen.