Stories of 2020—A Digital Storytelling Initiative

How did American lives change in 2020? The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History launched a digital storytelling initiative, Stories of 2020, on Dec. 9, inviting the public to contribute their own tales of navigating life at a time when multiple crises have unfolded across the country.

The interactive platform for this national collecting project can be accessed at Participants may share their experiences along with uploading up to five photographs or a video clip of 60 seconds or less. These “digital time capsules” will allow museum curators and future historians to document, study and interpret this moment in history.

With Stories of 2020, the National Museum of American History aims to:

  • Create a space for public and collective reflection on the year as it is ending;
  • Provide an opportunity to shape the historical record through personal stories, recollections and images;
  • Establish a permanent textual archive to help document the global health pandemic, protests for racial justice, economic crisis, the presidential election and the massive shifts in everyday life in the U.S. in 2020.

Just as historians today turn to letters, diaries, scrapbooks and physical objects to understand the past, Stories of 2020 will serve as a significant tool for future understanding of this year.

The site invites participants to type text, share images, or upload videos in response to the prompt:

“Share a story with the future: How did your life change during these times?”

The website will feature selected stories, images, and videos and will be updated frequently as the public adds content to the platform. Submissions will be archived and preserved as part of the Smithsonian’s national collections. Curators will review submissions and may contact participants for permission to preserve selected photographs and videos.

The National Museum of American History will also be participating in a one-day Smithsonian-wide project, “24 Hours in a Time of Change,” on Dec. 11: along with nine other museums and centers.