Morris County COVID-19 History Project

Descripción en Español: Visite Esta Página

This project is an easy, informal outlet for teachers, students, “essential” personnel, community members, and others to share their short reflections and stories about the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in our immediate area.

The Museum has dedicated two phone lines, one with English instructions and one with Spanish instructions, for calling in these stories, which can be up to five minutes in length. These oral histories will be left as voicemails, which the Museum will later download, catalog, and archive. The Museum retains all rights to these recorded voicemails and their contents.

 Although the Museum will accept anonymous submissions, the material will have more historical value if callers provide their names and some brief information about themselves.

The Museum is also happy to accept written submissions via email. Files may be attached, but the Museum retains all rights to all submitted emails and attached materials.

The Museum is not accepting physical objects at this time.

How to Participate:


Outline and rehearse your story in advance. Your recording must be under five minutes in length. You may call multiple times and leave multiple stories, but please do not divide a single story across multiple voicemails; we cannot guarantee that the files will be archived together and heard consecutively as you may have intended.

English instructions: 973.971.3727
Spanish instructions: 973.971.3735

Email: [email protected]


Peruse these questions and prompts as you consider what you would like to share.

Quick Background:

  • What is your name and where is home?
  • What is your email address (so we might update you on this project).
  • Before this crisis, how did you typically occupy the day? (Were you in school, at work, parenting, volunteering, etc.?)

Big Picture: 

  • Can you identify things in the past that were once incredibly important to you that have lost their significance? What priorities have changed? Do you imagine these priorities snapping back in place for you, or do you feel they’ve been replaced by new ones.
  • What good do you see coming out of this moment? What has the COVID-19 crisis made possible that did not exist before? What opportunities do you see ahead in our future lives together?
  • For people listening to this in 100 years, what do you want them to know about what life is like for you now?
  • What do you want most to remember about this time? What have you learned?

Personal stories:

  • When did you first begin to take the COVID-19 issue seriously? Did something in particular trigger your realization that this was a real crisis?
  • Give an example of an event or experience that defines this moment in history for you.
  • Did you experience or witness moments of heroic bravery and sacrifice?
  • Did you experience or witness hidden moments of quiet service and selflessness?
  • When did the dedication and importance of “essential” personnel hit home for you?
  • Does a particular story about a particular person stand out for you?
  • How did the “dark” side of human nature reveal itself. Were you ever disappointed by your fellow beings and their response to this crisis?
  • How and when did you see humor and joy in the midst of these times?
  • Did you see human relationships change? In what way? Give an example.
  • How have communities in which you’re involved changed their practices? Has this diminished the feeling of community for you or made the bond closer?
  • What kind of creativity and ingenuity did you see, as people confronted new challenges?
  • How has this crisis effected your personal communities? (Most of us are members of multiple communities including work, school, religious and volunteer organizations.)
  • How has your personal experience been similar to or different from the coverage of this crisis you’ve seen in the media. What stories or angles might have been missed?
  • Describe your typical day during “lock-down.” What were the highlights of these endless days? What were the low points?
  • What new activities or habits have you adopted during this time? Do you imagine sustaining these in the future?
  • What losses have you confronted? The life of a friend or loved one? A job? A way of life? A favorite business or restaurant that’s closed? A graduation or wedding, surrounded by families and friends?
  • What painful story of the moment do you think will be a funny story in the future?

Just for kids:

  • Describe the differences between your home and neighborhood before the COVID-19 crisis and now. What has most noticeably changed? Is the change for better or worse?
  • Describe a funny or embarrassing time when you interrupted your parent or caregiver in the middle of a “Zoom” conference?
  • Who won the “battle of the nerves”? You? Or the grownup? Explain and give details.
  • What was your favorite “lock-down” meal? Will you still want to eat it a year from now? How do you make it? What’s the basic recipe?
  • When did you catch the grownups “cheating” on lockdown procedures. Details, please.
  • Were there secret supplies of food or other pleasurable items in your house that no one else knew about? Details, please.
  • Did you create anything during lockdown that makes you especially happy or proud? If it’s a short story or poem, read it on the voicemail line. If it’s a drawing or painting, send an email with an attached image.
  • Did you celebrate any special occasions during lockdown, like a birthday or a religious holiday? How was it different from last year? Was it still special? Are there good stories?
  • If you kept a diary, were you successful writing something every day? What was your longest entry about? What was your funniest entry about? What was your saddest entry about?
  • What was the best thing about being home from school? What was the worst thing?
  • What were some of the things you were doing at home, while your teacher thought you were tuned in to a video class? Was your technology OK for learning? Or did you feel like it was difficult to learn with the technology you had?
  • How much space did you have for yourself during lockdown? Did you have your own room? Did you share a room? How many people shared the space you call “home”? Did you have pets with you in lockdown? What was it like to be confined for so long in this space?
  • Did any adults in your household have to continue going out to work? What kind of work did they do? What stories did they bring home? Were you afraid for them? Were you proud of them? Were they more tired than usual? How did you help them at home?
  • Were you in touch with family or friends in other places? In other cities, states, or countries? Did you compare experiences? How were your experiences similar or different?