Collecting Covid-19

Experiences of the pandemic in the East Riding

Choose a chapter below to explore the exhibition in more detail.

Introduction

“Stay at Home. Save Lives. Protect the NHS.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 23 March 2020.

These words echoed across the United Kingdom, marking the start of an unprecedented chapter in our everyday lives as Boris Johnson’s call to action initiated a nationwide lockdown to fight against a new coronavirus.

This online exhibition serves as a window into the resilience of East Riding communities, presenting a selection of the many stories preserved in the East Riding Archives collections looking at different aspects of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The topics include:

  • Archiving the Pandemic
  • An Unprecedented Health Crisis
  • The ‘New Normal’
  • Reflections
  • Family and Youth Life
  • We’re in This Together
  • Creativity Unlocked
COVID-19 signage at the East Riding Archives. (Photo: East Riding of Yorkshire Council)

COVID-19 signage at the East Riding Archives. (Photo: East Riding of Yorkshire Council)

Please be aware
This exhibition contains some material which readers may find upsetting, and the opinions expressed by those included in the exhibition are not those of the Council.

Chapter 1: Archiving the Pandemic

In the face of unprecedented challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, the East Riding Archives took on a crucial role as the custodian of our community's collective memory. Find out more about our COVID-19 collecting projects and how you can access the material.

Go to Chapter 1

An aisle in an East Riding Archives repository. (Photo: East Riding of Yorkshire Council)

An aisle in an East Riding Archives repository. (Photo: East Riding of Yorkshire Council)

Chapter 2: An Unprecedented Health Crisis

From the onset of March 2020, COVID-19 catapulted to headline news. This chapter highlights some responses to those changes, from the pandemic’s initial arrival in the East Riding through to the rollout of vaccines.

Go to Chapter 2

Beverley during the first lockdown, May 2020. (Photo: Hannah Stamp)

Beverley during the first lockdown, May 2020. (Photo: Hannah Stamp)

Chapter 3: The ‘New Normal’

With the imposition of government rules and restrictions, our lives were reshaped into what quickly became known as the 'new normal.' Documented in their own words, read accounts of everyday life across the East Riding during this period.

Go to Chapter 3

The TESCO supermarket in Beverley in 2020, photo by Sally George (archives reference DDX2325/34)

The TESCO supermarket in Beverley in 2020, photo by Sally George (archives reference DDX2325/34)

Chapter 4: Reflections

Read a selection of personal perspectives on navigating life during uncertain times, revealing the diverse ways in which individuals processed and found meaning amidst the challenges presented by the pandemic.

Go to Chapter 4

Still image from the video recording of ‘Today’s Statistics’ poem recited by Chris Sewart, 2023 (archives reference DDX2357/2)

Still image from the video recording of ‘Today’s Statistics’ poem recited by Chris Sewart, 2023 (archives reference DDX2357/2)

Chapter 5: Family and Youth Life

Via storytelling, time capsules, and even creative videogames, this chapter explores family and youth narratives, capturing the essence of their unique journeys through the pandemic.

Go to Chapter 5

Photograph from 'Panny D, our boys and me' Covid-19 poem by Helen McGill (archives reference DDX2375/1)

Photograph from 'Panny D, our boys and me' Covid-19 poem by Helen McGill (archives reference DDX2375/1)

Chapter 6: We’re in This Together

Amidst the challenges of the pandemic, this chapter unfolds stories of unity and community togetherness.

Go to Chapter 6

Photograph from Beverley Waltham Lane residents Covid-19 lockdown experiences essay by Jane Lancaster, 2020 (archives reference DDX2323/2/1)

Photograph from Beverley Waltham Lane residents Covid-19 lockdown experiences essay by Jane Lancaster, 2020 (archives reference DDX2323/2/1)

Chapter 7: Creativity Unlocked

From the comforting aroma of baking to the rhythmic verses of poetry, the tranquility of gardening to the intricacies of knitting and model making, for some, lockdown became a canvas for exploration and creativity.

Go to Chapter 7

Front cover of ‘The Garden Family’ booklet, by Karen Simpkin, 2020 (archives reference DDX2338/1/2)

Front cover of ‘The Garden Family’ booklet, by Karen Simpkin, 2020 (archives reference DDX2338/1/2)

Is Your Experience Represented?

We recognise that each person navigated the pandemic in unique ways. Whether you or your community’s experiences were marked by resilience, adaptation, or moments of profound reflection, we want to ensure that these narratives are preserved for the benefit of future generations.

If you are currently based in the East Riding, or were during the COVID-19 pandemic, please get in touch with our Archivist who will be happy to discuss depositing your testimony in our collections.

Email archives.service@eastriding.gov.uk

Further Resources

The East Riding Blockdown: Contemporary Collecting in Minecraft (East Riding Archives)

Lockdown told through blocks! Our East Riding Blockdown project, funded by The Audience Agency as part of their National Lottery Heritage Fund initiative ‘Digitally Democratising Archives’, collected young people’s experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic using a virtual Archiverse world crafted in the Minecraft videogame.

Find out more about the East Riding Archiverse.

Covid-19 Testimony Database (The British Library)

A database of testimony projects in the UK that collected material during the Covid-19 pandemic, compiled by the British Library's Oral History team.

Visit the database on the British Library website

Pandemics, Society and Public Health 1517-1925 (British Online Archives)

This project collates archival materials relating primarily to the history of the UK, focusing on four diseases that have left a significant mark upon British history: plague, cholera, smallpox, and influenza.

Visit the database on the British Online Archives website

Acknowledgements

Thank you to all our Depositors who have contributed their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic for permanent preservation in the East Riding Archives and to those who have provided their kind permission to display their testimonies in this exhibition.

The East Riding Archives also thank Jacqui Bonell (Librarian, East Riding of Yorkshire Council Schools Library Service) for the innovative COVID-19 poetry and time capsule project with primary schools across the East Riding.

For making the East Riding Blockdown project possible, the East Riding Archives thank The Audience Agency for their funding and support.

What do you think about this exhibition?

Via our quick survey, the East Riding Archives would like to learn from our visitors what you enjoyed about this online exhibition, and how our future exhibitions could be improved.

Collecting Covid-19 Survey