2020 may be a year we want to forget, but the Gallatin History Museum will help us remember it forever. No one knows how long COVID-19 will continue to alter both the way that we live and how we interact with others around us. To share stories of Bozeman residents during the time of the coronavirus, the Gallatin History Museum has created a project called “Gallatin County- A Community Memoir” to capture individual experiences.
In an interview with Gallatin History Museum Research Coordinator Rachel Philips, she said, “This project started in the end of March when the virus really started coming on strong. We were going to close the museum, we had to for a while, and we were trying to think of ways to involve the community while we were closed, and also recognize the fact that this is a historic event. We tried to think of ways to preserve people’s stories and experiences during the pandemic and the closure.”
Ultimately, the museum decided to allow residents of Gallatin County to submit letters, essays, photographs, poems, drawings or just about anything that would express their experiences or thoughts about living within Gallatin County during the pandemic.
Philips went on to add that since late March, many local students, elementary through high school, have been writing letters about their experiences. “We thought it would help some people....because people were so isolated, we thought it was a good way to keep a connection during all the closures we were experiencing and contribute to stories about what is going on that can be looked into in the future.”
The Gallatin History Museum has been collecting and preserving the stories and memories of the residents and businesses of Gallatin County and Southwest Montana for over 40 years.“The town and the county has been growing and changing so much, pretty much since its existence, and since it changes so fast, it is really important to preserve peoples’ memories and their viewpoints about what things were like in different points in history, so we can get a feel for all aspects of the history of Gallatin county,” Phillips said when asked about the importance of her work at the museum.
The museum is looking to hear the voice, of college students and their experiences during the pandemic, so be sure to visit their website at gallatinhistorymuseum.org to virtually submit a record or drop a letter in the “memory box” on the museum’s front porch. “Because the situation keeps changing, new perspectives are going to keep coming forward. The more we get the better,” Philips said. “I think it is important to preserve stories from all sorts of people, from all sorts of time periods. It gives us a more well-rounded picture of the history of the area.”
Although the museum is currently closed to the public, appointments can be made to visit the research library.