The Blaine County Historical Museum

The Blaine County Historical Museum contains countless artifacts from the area. The new Memory Project will add local experiences to the collection as well.

Approaching the nine-month milestone since Idaho doctors identified the state’s first case of COVID-19, the Blaine County Historical Museum in Hailey has launched a new Memory Collecting Project, asking students and adults to reflect on the challenges and changes of 2020.

The museum has devised two brief questionnaires for Blaine County residents. The first is designed for students and has already been distributed in schools throughout the county and to homeschool families. Museum director Rebecca Cox reported a strong response from students so far.

The second is for adult residents to reflect on the big changes—professional, personal, social, economic, etc.—that this unusual year has brought.

The aim of both, Cox said, is not to collect the statistics and hard facts recorded by government bodies and newspapers, but to capture and preserve the personal human element and compile a “nice, even representation of the community.”

“So many organizations will record the hard facts. I’m most interested in reaching out for the personal experiences, personal decisions, and feelings people had,” Cox said. “That doesn’t necessarily always translate well throughout history, but those nuances are important as we try to capture the human experience as best we can and hopefully create a compilation of how we’ve all been feeling.”

Rather than collecting these experiences for exhibition, the museum’s goal is to archive local accounts for posterity, so future generations can look back and understand what life was truly like in Blaine County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors, teachers, grocery store workers, bus drivers, stay-at-home parents—whatever the experience, the museum is interested, Cox said.

Participants may give their names or remain anonymous if they wish. The succinct survey contains four questions:

  • In what way did the pandemic most impact your life?
  • What was a particular decision that was difficult to make in 2020?
  • In what way did your job change in 2020?
  • What were unexpected challenges and how did you choose to overcome them?

Forms can be found online at www.bchistoricalmuseum.org or in hard copy at the Hailey Chamber. The museum will be collecting questionnaires until Jan. 31.

“I really wanted to catch these thoughts as people are having them, not in hindsight. Things always feel different in hindsight,” Cox said. “As a historical museum, I think it’s important to be a part of history as it’s happening.”

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