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Pandemic memories sought for Athenaeum archives

WESTFIELD-Since memories can fade with time, the Westfield Athenaeum’s archives department is hoping area residents will share their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic for possible inclusion in the local historical records.

“Lucille Feorino came up with the idea of encouraging people to record their impressions and memories during this historic time for their own benefit,” said Kate Deviny, director, Westfield Athenaeum.

Deviny then took that suggestion a step further – noting resident submissions could be considered for possible inclusion in the library archives.

Feorino, who serves as the circulation library assistant and will oversee this project, has some helpful tips for preserving one’s experiences during the pandemic, including jotting down a few sentences in a handwritten or digital journey or making recordings using a phone’s microphone or video functions. A password-protected blog is another route to consider for logging observations.

For those willing to send pandemic memory submissions to the Athenaeum for possible inclusion in the archives, email Feorino at [email protected] or mail to Westfield Athenaeum, 6 Elm St., Westfield, MA 01085, attn: pandemic memories. For more details on recording one’s pandemic story, visit

“We would welcome assistance from Westfield Technical Academy and Westfield State University students in handling the videos,” said Deviny.

Feorino asks that information sent should include one’s name, address, email or telephone number, the date of the written submission, photo, video or recording, the location, and the identification of any people in the photo, video or recording.

“Media coverage of this historic event has been extensive and ongoing,” said Deviny. “However, it is difficult to capture all the ways the pandemic has hit home. This is a chance for residents to add a human face, voice and local experience to the story.”

Deviny noted that video submissions that are emailed should be less than one minute.

“Longer videos should be kept for review when we can meet and make it into a montage,” said Deviny.

The ultimate goal for the project is to provide insight into the wide variety of experiences people have/had with the pandemic.

“Like childbirth, time passes and we don’t remember all the details,” said Deviny. “Remember that first week, when we were all told to go home? Or when we were first told about social distancing? Our view of both of those are different now.”

Deviny added that writing or videoing a daily memo will show survival, even when one believes it can’t get worse.

“They are telling their stories to their great-grandchildren,” said Deviny.

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