Berlin Museum Seeks Community Stories, Artifacts

Berlin Museum Seeks Community Stories, Artifacts
File photo

BERLIN – Officials with the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum are encouraging community members to share their experiences during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum launched an effort to collect written and oral testimonies and artifacts from community members that document life in Berlin during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Facebook post reads, “The Taylor House Museum would like to know how everyone is doing in and around Berlin. We are living through an unprecedented event in history, as such the museum would like to create an archive of how COVID-19 is affecting lives in Berlin. If you are a resident, business owner or visitor we would like to hear your experiences. You can email us any voice memos, or written records you are keeping about this exceptional time in our history.”

Melissa Reid, president of the Taylor House Museum, said Berlin is one of many communities impacted by the pandemic and the subsequent closure of schools and non-essential businesses. She noted there was no better time for the public to participate in the museum’s efforts.

“We thought what an interesting opportunity to be collecting history as it’s actually happening,” she said. We wanted to focus on how a worldwide pandemic looks in minutia with a small community.”

Reid said anyone can share copies of diaries, video and voice recordings, newspapers, photographs and other materials referencing the COVID-19 pandemic with the Taylor House. She explained that all items would be archived for future use at the museum.

“We feel like the Taylor House Museum is really working to play a larger role in our community going forward, and we thought this would be an opportunity to pull in everybody,” she said. “So anyone that has any experience with Berlin – even if they’re driving through and notice it’s totally empty in the streets – we would like to hear their thoughts about that.”

Reid explained that many people were already keeping a record of recent events. She noted, for example, that some teachers have encouraged students to keep a journal or draw pictures during distance learning. Reid said she was taking pictures of Berlin and collecting posters to give to the museum.

“We felt like it would be a good opportunity to take advantage of everybody being in their home and might have an opportunity to sit down and reflect on what this is like,” she said.

Reid said this will be the museum’s largest community-driven effort in nearly two decades. She said roughly 20 years ago, the Taylor House collected interviews, photographs and other artifacts for a World War II exhibit.

“I think that was the last time we had a big exercise of collecting community archives and community pieces,” she said. “It was the last time we’ve done something of that scale.”

Reid encouraged all residents, business owners and visitors to share their experiences and submit their items to the museum.

“It builds upon that idea of what everyday life is like at certain times in the history of Berlin …,” she said. “Anything that anyone thinks is worth having, we will certainly hold onto it.”

For more information, or to submit stories, email the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum at [email protected].

“If they have actual paper things, we would prefer they hold on to that until we are open for the season and then bring them in …,” Reid said. “Our opening date is usually Memorial Day weekend. We are hoping we will open like usual this year.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.