Thursday, September 23, 2021

Local News

Scranton Library Asking Residents to Write Postcards to Posterity

As many people continue to look toward a hopeful future beyond the pandemic, the E.C. Scranton Library is asking residents to look back—on the good, the bad, and anything in between—as part of a Yale-sponsored project called Hindsight 2020, seeking to preserve feelings and memories of the past 18 months for future generations.

Between now and mid-September, Madison residents are invited to write either physical postcards at the library or digitally through the Hindsight 2020 website, documenting their feelings, ideas, and even drawings to be preserved at the Yale University Library.

“Everyone at this point has a story, something just incredible to say about the last year and half,” said Scranton Adult Services Librarian Rachel Taylor, who has headed up the project, “which is worth preserving for posterity and for future generations, and we really wanted Madison to be part of that.”

With a dozen or so towns in the greater New Haven area participating, Hindsight 2020 will hopefully be able to provide a snapshot that not only encapsulates the individual experiences of the pandemic, but can delineate how different towns, communities, and demographics were affected by 2020 and 2021, according to Taylor.

“Each town has its own personality, and I think we’re going to see that reflected in the responses,” she said. “I’m really excited to see how that unfolds.”

The Madison Historical Society actually ran a similar project more than a year ago, starting in May 2020, documenting people’s initial reactions from a purely Madison perspective. Taylor said she felt that taking part in this is another way for people to provide something of tremendous value to future generations all along the shoreline.

Postcards, both digital and those dropped off at the library, will be made available online, according to the Hindsight 2020 website, allowing people to immediately see each other’s reflections or experiences. They can be displayed anonymously, but the project asks for a name and email, and also will not take submissions with confidential information or images of people under 18.

People can also submit photos digitally through the website.

Eventually, all submissions will be preserved in the Yale University Manuscripts and Archives, which can be accessed digitally as well.

Yale Librarian Archivist Michelle Paralta said that postcards will initially be sorted by region and town on the website, allowing people to see what other communities are talking about. Eventually, when the website closes and postcards are processed to the permanent archive, they will be categorized even further, with “much more nuance” right down to the neighborhood they came from, she said.

Though right now there aren’t any other plans to put postcards into exhibits or displays, Peralta said Yale would “welcome future partnerships” allowing Hindsight 2020 to be part of larger art and historical movements going forward.

Taylor again emphasized how important it was for Scranton and Madison generally to participate in a project like this.

“Madison is a historic town and it’s got such a legacy, I think, in Connecticut,” she said. “This is a pretty significant period of time in the nation’s history, and we want Madison to have its say about that.”

The Hindsight 2020 website can be accessed at 2020newhaven.com. Postcards will be available at the library until Wednesday, Sept. 15.


Jesse Williams covers Guilford and Madison for Zip06. Email Jesse at j.williams@shorepublishing.com.

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