THE Public Record Office of Northern Ireland is calling for the public to help create an archive of how we lived during the Covid-19 outbreak – to ensure the story of the pandemic is preserved and made accessible for future generations.
PRONI’s ‘Stay Home’ Memories project will capture individual’s experience of the pandemic through documents, photographs, art, videos and diaries.
Since lockdown came into effect on March 23, the public have been innovative in adapting to life behind doors including celebrating milestones, finding new ways to communicate, shop, exercise and entertain.
Videos that have gone viral include the poignant message from staff at Belfast Trust to Stay Home, local comedian Paddy Raff’s hilarious family Zoom quiz and the Ashfield Boys’ High School virtual performance of Thank You Baked Potato with Matt Lucas.
And now PRONI is asking the public to share how they lived through the Covid-19 pandemic to capture the legacy of how our society adapted to the ‘Stay Home’ directive.
Memories that capture how we home schooled, shopped while socially distancing, turned living rooms into movie theatres, kitchen tables into work stations, gardens into obstacle courses, clapped on our doorsteps, returned to the art of letter and diary writing and so much more.
Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA explained: “The archives at PRONI constitute the official community memory of all citizens here. The Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event that has affected every individual not just here but across the world.
“PRONI has recently marked the centenaries of anniversaries of other global crises including the First World War and the Spanish Flu. The reason we have such a good understanding of these events and their impact upon society is because of the records we kept. PRONI has a key role to ensure that the story of the pandemic is preserved and made accessible so we have an official collective memory of the impact of Covid-19.”
As well as asking people to contribute items to the ‘Stay Home’ Memories project, PRONI will launch a ‘Stay Home’ Census, which will capture key details of daily life during the public health emergency.
A new ‘Stay Home’ Memories section will also be created on the PRONI web archive based on public recommendations of what to include in the collection.
In addition PRONI will hold online workshops and talks from guest speakers.
You can find full information on the ‘Stay Home’ Memories project, and how you can contribute to it, on the PRONI website https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni.