Museum of Health Care encourages Canadians to become part of the COVID-19 historical record

Kingston, ON—The Museum of Health Care at Kingston is issuing a nation-wide call urging all Canadians to share their personal COVID-19 stories in an effort to lay the foundation for a future COVID-19 Collection at the Museum.

Savannah Sewell, the Margaret Angus Research Fellow at the Museum is heading the collaborative project that will include an artifact collection, an archive of narratives, a manuscript, and a lecture. The project will explore the lived experience of Canadians and Canadian residents during the COVID-19 pandemic to record information regarding everyday life for future research.

“This project means the world to me because it will provide a holistic and detail-oriented research base that is so unique," said Sewell in a media release. "Researchers in the future won’t have the problems that colleagues and I have had in the present, while researching things like the Spanish Flu, when they research COVID-19, because we’re preparing for their work."

"How exciting is it that this project could mean that in 100 years, no one has to use the word unprecedented, or that they might know what to expect a little better than we did, or that we will have given them every day details that make learning so much easier.”

The Museum of Health Care encourages all Canadians who have experienced any of the following to add their personal story to the COVID-19 project:

  • illness due to COVID-19;
  • personal loss of any kind;
  • currently employed in government, education, healthcare, or business owners who have been affected by COVID-19;
  • have had their lives drastically altered due to the pandemic.

All stories, in any form, are welcome. Whether by video, email or handwritten letter, the value of personal experiences of this pandemic cannot be understated.

“We are making history every day during this pandemic, and it is critically important that the events be recorded so that future generations understand what happened, and how we as a society responded," said Dr. Ian Gemmill, COVID-19 Collection Project Supervisor with the Museum. "This project will lay the foundation for the Museum’s chronicling of the pandemic.”

The Museum reports that it has received positive response to an earlier call for COVID-19 material artifacts such as vaccination vials, personal protective equipment, and other related medical items. These items will be an excellent addition to the its already well-established collections from past pandemics. Featured alongside these important artifacts on display at the Museum are the stories of the human impact of these historic events—something the Museum is looking to repeat with the COVID-19 Collection.

As Canada’s foremost resource for medical and health related artifacts, the Museum of Health Care is a natural choice to head this project. With a collection of over 35,000 items, some of which include items that are last of their kind, the Museum has the expertise to capture this monumental time in history for future generations.

"Although it is unusual for a museum to be gathering materials for a COVID-19 pandemic collection while still in the midst of the pandemic," said Dr. Christopher J. Ruty, Guest Curator of the Museum's "Vaccine and Immunization: Epidemics, Prevention and Canadian Innovation" exhibit, "preservation of distinctive items generated by the pandemic, especially written, audio and video recordings of personal experiences, stories and perspectives about living through the pandemic -- or by or about those who did not -- can help build a rich, relevant and lasting legacy for future generations." 

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the COVID-19 Collection project, please contact the Museum of Health Care at [email protected] or call 613-548-2419.

About the Museum of Health Care at Kingston

The Museum of Health Care at Kingston connects visitors with the experiences of people in the past to provide context and perspective on today's health issues. The Museum is Canada’s national resource for health care history. Through exhibitions, guided tours, education programs, our online collection catalogue, and a curated blog, we provide a wide-ranging audience access to Canada’s rich health care past. We strive to inspire wonder, to promote learning, and to create knowledge that will contribute to a better future in health and health care. For more information visit: