SAN ANSELMO (KPIX 5) — The Marin County town of San Anselmo has begun a history project to document life during the coronavirus pandemic with an eye on helping future generations.

San Anselmo was founded in 1907 and much of its early historical record is provided by the old San Anselmo Herald. But when local historians examined the newspaper’s archives they could only find two mentions of the entire 1918 flu pandemic that killed 50 million people worldwide. And there was nothing about what it was like to live through it.

“So we decided, let’s don’t have that happen this time. Let’s get some first-hand stories,” said Judy Coy, Chair of the town’s Historical Commission.

The commission, in partnership with the public library, is asking people to submit photographs with a short paragraph documenting life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One photo shows a deserted downtown during a dog walk. Another captures the nightly 8 p.m. “howl” in support of healthcare workers. Still another shows a virtual group therapy session for young people.

Librarian Linda Kenton says if this kind of thing was available from 1918 it might make our current struggle a bit easier.

“You know, if we could see that our forefathers and mothers really buckled down and did it and got through it, maybe that would have given us a little more, ‘Ok, we can do this too. It’s a hundred years later. If they could do it, we could do it,'” Kenton said.

The pandemic came on quickly with no warning. After toilet paper shortages and shelters-in-place and face-mask mandates, we are just now beginning to imagine how far-reaching it will be in our lives. So documenting that journey will be important when all of that becomes a part of history as well.

“I think those reminders are timeless,” said Kenton. “And whether it was in 1918 or 2020 or in a hundred years from now, I think those messages are always important for us to know that we can do this. We can get through this together.”

Other Bay Area communities have begun similar projects. Anyone with photos specific to life in San Anselmo, can email them with a short description to pandemic@sananselmohistory.org. .

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