History Responds >

Photo: Kay Hickman


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 Black Lives Matter protests, Occupy Wall Street, 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 the COVID-19 pandemic and its sudden disruption of lives around the world. 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.

COVID-19 Pandemic

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? 

  • 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 there items you use in your job as a frontline worker?
  • Have you created or purchased items used in fundraising initiatives?
  • Have you worn face masks with political messages or other slogans on them? 
  • Are you participating in protests with your own signs, flyers, posters, banners, or artwork?

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 historyresponds@nyhistory.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

​Learn more:
History Responds: Collecting During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Living to Tell the Tale: A Historian on the Objects Life Leaves Behind

Image caption:
Catherine “Cat” Carnes, a registered nurse from Oklahoma, came to Brooklyn to volunteer after seeing “the news day after day and watching the nurses literally cry out for help in New York City.”

Creative: Tronvig Group