WASHINGTON — How do you put a year like 2020 into words?
Decades from now, how will you remember it?
They're tough questions, but curators Sam Vong and Shannon Perich at the National Museum of American History think the answers will be important for generations to come. To help with that mission, they're collecting written submissions from people across the country, describing how they experienced this year.
"As historians, what we really want to do is document what's going on before it kind of escapes from us," said Vong.
The museum has put out an open invitation to submit, with the hope that those recollections will preserve for the future the experiences of a year that really was like no other. You can submit your own story here.
"All of these stories will help people drill down or will open up new avenues of exploration and research," said Perich.
The submissions can be mundane.
"What did it mean to sit in your home by yourself?" asked Perich. "The only way we're ever going to know the answer to that question is if people tell us."
Or they can be extraordinary, like one of Vong's favorites so far from a former Bhutanese refugee who resurrected a grassroots media outlet to share information during the pandemic.
"Public health professionals and refugee stakeholders started contacting me in order to share information via the (Bhutan News Service) Facebook page," wrote Thakur M. from Matthews, North Carolina. "That was one of the moments when I realized how important an ethnic-media outlet can be."
The most important thing, Vong says, is that these moments aren't forgotten.
"People are trying to adapt as best as they can to things that are unpredictable." he said. "We are everyday people making history."
The submission period opened in December and runs through March.