Preserving the history of
COVID-19 in Altoona

The Altoona Area Historical Society is collecting your stories of how COVID-19 has impacted your life. Social distancing, working from home, virtual learning, contactless delivery, and so much more! The best time for us to preserve this historic time is while we are living through it.

We are actively collecting documents, images, and objects that will help future generations understand our present. There is no question that the coronavirus pandemic has drastically impacted all our lives and has been one of the most historic events to impact our community in more than a generation.

Our hope is that the items and stories we collect now will help future generations understand what it felt like to live through this time. Our goal is to collect the stories of Altoona residents, and we need your help.

Donate items

To help preserve the story of how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted life in Altoona, we are collecting items related to the pandemic for our collection. These items will be used in exhibits in the future to tell the story of COVID-19 in Altoona. We are looking for facemasks, signage, hand sanitizer, photos, and anything else that helps tell the story of COVID-19 in our community.

Three-dimensional objects and artifacts, along with documents, manuscripts, photographs, and digital materials (like video and audio recordings) make up the Altoona Area Historical Museum collections. We are seeking items that represent the daily lives of people in the Altoona area before, during, and after the pandemic. Here are some examples of objects the museum may be interested in collecting:

•Signs from local stores noting buying limits, social distancing, COVID-19 precautions
•Masks sewn by home crafters.
•Badges or signs from hospitals, clinics, and vaccine sites.
•Artwork created by families while sheltering in place.
•Used gift cards or gift certificates from local businesses.
•T-shirts and other apparel related to the pandemic.
•Photographs of signs, empty streets, screening operations, vaccine clinics, unique quarantine-related family gatherings, online meetings, worship services, book clubs, etc.

If you have something you would like to donate to the museum, you can email us at, or send us a message using the contact form below.

Share your story

We are also looking for stories from people of all ages and experiences. These could include journal entries, audio recordings, videos, pictures, oral history interviews, art, objects and so much more.

Not sure what to submit? Maybe one of these questions will help spark some ideas:

•How do you communicate and connect with your family, friends, colleagues, or strangers? (e.g., screenshots of family group text chains, Zoom calls, signs, sidewalk chalk around the neighborhood)

•What places have more importance to you now? (e.g., your home office set-up, your favorite room, the local grocery store, your daily walk route)

•What is something that has brought you joy unexpectedly? (e.g., cooking at home, creative projects, home gyms, family game night)

•What is something that you’ve lost? (e.g., going out to eat with friends, the illness or death of loved ones, sense of safety/security)

•How have you protected your health or the health of others? (e.g., wearing masks, making hand sanitizer, talking with loved ones for support, cleaning your home)

•How have you reacted to public health directives? (e.g., bought too much toilet paper, started wearing a mask, sheltered in place before it was required)

•Audio recordings of how you or your family or community are dealing with the COVID-19 quarantine rules or how you are affected by the pandemic.

•Journals written by Altoona area residents documenting their experiences.

•Correspondence (email or paper) between individuals or from small businesses.

•Rules, guidelines, or other small business documentation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can share these with us by getting ahold of us through the form below, emailing us at, or mailing it to us at 104 2nd Street SE, Altoona, IA 50009.

    We are committed to collecting stories for the long term. We understand that, for some, today’s experiences are currently too raw to document. We also understand that some of the best materials come out of periods of reflection. We look forward to engaging with you on a timeframe that meets your needs.

    We thank you for your participation and we look forward to preserving your stories in our museum and archival collections.