Collection Facts

Extent: 
35 items
Dates of Original: 
March - June 2020
NYH Topic Area(s):

Historical Context

A strange and unfamiliar virus started sickening people in Wuhan, China in late 2019, and by early in 2020 cases began to show up in the United States. On March 1, 2020, New York State informed the public of its first case of the novel coronavirus, and by March 7, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency, which soon resulted in shifts to daily living, such as bans of large gatherings and calls for social distancing – keeping six feet apart and social circles small. By March 14, the Tompkins County Health Department reported its first Covid case, an Ithaca College community member, and on March 21, the Ithaca City School District notified the public that one of its members tested positive. Businesses and schools shut down, streets and normal gathering places became deserted, and suddenly, terrifyingly, people in New York City and elsewhere downstate started sickening and dying in horrifying numbers. Here upstate the cases were far fewer, but still an alarming part of everyday life. One bad aspect of this crisis was the lack of personal protective equipment for medical providers, as well as for the community at large. People rallied to support caregivers and each other, and mask-making became a way to help in the crisis. Medical professionals from Tompkins County travelled to help colleagues in hard-hit New York City, braving the virus to help in this desperate time. Gradually, people learned to adapt to the new normal, some by creating Covid-gardens, like the Victory gardens of World War II. Spring 2020 was frightening and inspiring at the same time for people across the world.

Scope of Collection

This collection of born-digital images was taken in March-June 2020 in Tompkins County, New York. They are all focused on the community’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. All are low-resolution jpgs taken by members of the local community, mostly from cell-phone cameras.