I was inspired to collect the images in the Pandemic Peace and Promise Community Photo Project when browsing digitized photographs of the Women's Suffrage Movement on the Library of Congress's site in early 2020 to commemorate the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment. As I looked through images in the collection, I found myself particularly drawn to those of everyday people. Not all of the images were artful, but I found them compelling and important; they afforded me a glimpse into a collective endeavor undertaken by a multitude that shaped the course of history.
The year 2020 was of course also the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. There are few similarities between the long quest to pass the 19th Amendment and our present efforts to adapt how we work, study, worship, socialize, and shop during a pandemic that as of today has sickened more than 48 million and killed more than 777,000 people in this nation alone, but they share this: both involved millions of people with compelling stories that deserve to be remembered.
Many of these stories are painful, almost unbearably so. Many are heroic. These are the stories that we are most likely to hear. More common but equally important, I feel, are those that demonstrate our collective resilience and resourcefulness in a difficult time. Without sugar-coating the hard realities of the pandemic, I wanted to help record how we have improvised and adapted in the face of adversity.
I suspect that many of the improvisations and adaptations prompted by the pandemic will endure long after the crisis phase has passed. We will likely continue to invite physically distant loved ones to virtual celebrations, work and study in hybrid modalities, and pursue the hobbies that we took up during the pandemic, from baking bread to birdwatching. I hope that future generations will be informed and inspired by our example when they face crises that require fundamental changes to their way of life.