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Museum collects journals from women and girls who’ve documented the pandemic

For two years, the National Women’s History Museum in Alexandria, Va., has been collecting journals by women writing about their pandemic experiences.



STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

How will future generations learn about life during the pandemic?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JILLIAN BUCKLEY: Hello, I’m Jillian Buckley, and I’m here with…

CAROLINE: Caroline.

HANNAH: Hannah and…

ADA: Ada.

BUCKLEY: And we’re…

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

The National Women’s History Museum in Alexandria, Va., has been collecting journals from women and girls who have been documenting their lives since the pandemic began two years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: First off, if you’re listening to this, hopefully that means the pandemic is over and didn’t kill everyone. So yay.

INSKEEP: Yay – what else can you say? That’s from an audio journal by social worker Jillian Buckley, who set up weekly meetings for kids at a New York park and recorded a podcast with her phone.

LORI ANN TERJESEN: We asked women to journal their experiences in whatever medium made them feel the most comfortable.

MARTINEZ: Lori Ann Terjesen is vice president of education at the museum.

TERJESEN: We got hand-sewn books, and we have large canvas paintings in our office now – quilts, photo journals and movies.

MARTINEZ: So far, the museum has assembled more than 500 entries. They even collected memes. I mean, memes are a great record of American thought.

INSKEEP: In a way. They also collected random impressions of how life changed when many of us had to retreat into a world of virtual meetings and classes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: And Zoom is like a platform where you talk on a computer.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #3: And it became very, very…

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: It’s so weird ’cause, like, you guys are, like, legit in the air talking.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #3: (Laughter) And it’s really weird because if you put your headphones in, then you’re just, like, staring at a screen.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: Like, I don’t get that.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #3: And then it just looks like you’re talking to yourself.

INSKEEP: It’s kind of fun to think about now, although of course for many people, it was not at the time. Terjesen says this collection largely focuses on women in the pandemic.

TERJESEN: There is an immediate, urgent need to ensure that women’s voices are heard and collected and remembered. It’s my hope that we will remember that there are voices that have traditionally been left out and that we immediately respond saying, your story has value. Please don’t lose it. Please record it. Please share it with us.

MARTINEZ: Terjesen spearheaded the project while parenting three young children and told us she’s learned from that experience.

TERJESEN: It doesn’t have to be go, go, go all the time. We can be flexible. And it’s OK to take a break when you need to.

INSKEEP: A lesson for all kinds of times.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAURA VEIRS SONG, “I CAN SEE YOUR TRACKS”)

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