Like many other museums all around the world, the OnFife team set out to create a permanent record of the difficult times we all experienced during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although still fresh in our minds, the pandemic will one day become an important section in history books. Our museums’ Collections team has therefore collected objects and archival material linked to Covid-19, including a self-test lateral flow kit, a face covering, and a bottle of hand sanitiser produced by a local distillery.
In addition to that, we also set out to record individual Fifers’ thoughts, feelings, and experiences around what they were going through. This material has now been processed and compiled into our “Fife in Lockdown” digital archive.
On 26 March 2020 OnFife started a campaign, inviting individuals to email their lockdown experiences to the museums’ Collections service. In addition to that, our colleagues from the Exhibitions team, Local Studies, Archives, Creative Development, and Young People’s Service helped us spread the word about this project through their networks. Here are some examples of what we collected.
We were sent an array of photographs of various signage and imagery we became familiar with during Covid. The signage reminded us to stay safe, keep our hands clean and sanitized, and keep our distance from others. Variations of these signs were used all around the world – which is a mind-boggling thought! I wonder what memories these images will evoke in 10-, 20- or 50-years’ time?
Another iconic group of images we received were linked to the NHS. Including photos of the NHS rainbow – a symbol of resilience and hope.
From communal support for the NHS to isolation – those who had to spend time at a hospital during the pandemic often found it a lonely experience.
Many Fifers were kind enough to share their lockdown thoughts and feelings with us, spanning from a couple of paragraphs to hundreds of pages. Here are some snippets from them. Which one of these experiences do you most identify with?
“Was able to buy yeast again today. It has been impossible to find for at least a couple of weeks; it’s odd how little things like that assume such importance in lockdown conditions.”
“Working from home, never used TEAMs before. What is it they say about monkeys left in a room with a typewriter?”
“There is some value in an ‘all in this together’ feeling and it’s likely that some at least of the beleaguered and courageous NHS staff gain strength from the visible (audible) expressions of support. I can’t pretend to be comfortable clapping on the doorstep in the twilight – but who says we have to be comfortable?”
“Early on, people started colouring rainbow pictures and putting them in their windows for people to see. It helps us to feel less isolated…knowing we are all going through this together.”
“My next-door neighbour often puts our bins out in time for collection day. I thanked him today and explained that I’d only brought mine back in because I’m wary of touching anything that’s not mine. It feels ridiculous to not be able to touch the handle of his bin to pull it back up to the house.”
“I’ve become a little bit of a therapist for some of my friends, who are feeling a little depressed during these times.”
“I put on my happy face as I didn’t want the kids seeing me like that. Mums are meant to be strong and here I was weak. I also developed a guilt over feeling like this as here I was feeling like this safe at home when there were people out there risking their lives for others. I did feel better when I was up and playing games with the kids or watching movies with them but once they were in bed, I started to feel depressed again.”
“At home, we are feeling a kind of cabin fever, sitting down every evening to supper and then choosing a film or TV series to watch. It feels like Groundhog Day without the possibilities of improving on what went before. I’m missing weekends away and feeling refreshed by a new set of experiences.”
During lockdowns, many of us lent a helping hand in our communities. Here are some examples:
Delivering food and other essentials to neighbours and local organisations in need will also bring back memories to many. Here is a photo of Becky and Gideon’s car during one of their delivery runs!
Lockdown gave many people an opportunity to focus on hobbies or even start a new one.
The Fife in Lockdown archive is currently not publicly accessible but is permanently saved on our Collections Management System to be used in future exhibitions and research.
We would like to thank all participants: Marjory Archibald, Robin Arnott, Ann Bain, Martin Boyle, Margaret Braid, Niamh Conlon, Julian Crowe, Margaret Cummins, Judith Dennis, Fife College students, Clare Fisher, David Hughes-Hallett, Bernadette Kelleher, Peter Kellett, Jennifer Kelly, Catherine Kerr-Dineen, Caroline Kyle, Eunice Lacey, Penelope Lycett, Katy McKidd-Stevenson, Andrea McMillan, Linda Menzies, Gillian Paterson, Donald Payne, Lindsay Proven, Becky & Gideon Salter, Maureen Sangster, Sylvia Scott, May Smith, Eileen Louise Walls and those who wished to remain anonymous.
Your contributions will become history!
Call-out for additional participants
We are still looking to add the following memories to our Fife in Lockdown database:
If you wish to submit an entry, please email email@example.com before 22 August 2022.
This blog was written by Kirke Kook, Collections Curator