Dutchess County Seeks Residents’ Stories about COVID-19 Pandemic for Historical Survey

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro encourages residents to take part in the County’s COVID-19 History Survey, which documents their experiences during the current pandemic and will better prepare leaders for the health crises of the future.

The voluntary online survey, available at dutchessny.gov/COVIDhistory, allows residents to document their stories regarding the COVID-19 pandemic through a series of open-ended questions, and, with the participant’s permission, the answers will be preserved in the County’s archives and shared with the public — now and in years to come — to help inform and educate future generations.

County Executive Molinaro said, “We are living through unprecedented times, dealing with the type of worldwide health crisis not seen in generations. Our individual experiences, as well as the collective actions we take as a community today, will not only guide Dutchess County through the next few months, they’ll enable future leaders to make informed decisions when future pandemics impact our community. I urge you to take part in our COVID-19 History Survey — a few minutes of your time can save lives years from now.”

World leaders have looked to the past — specifically, the last great pandemic, the 1918 Influenza outbreak — for insight and guidance when facing the current COVID-19 pandemic. The lessons learned more than a century ago, including the successes and shortcomings of public health officials during the era, have been used to formulate strategies to combat the current virus.

Through its COVID-19 History Survey, Dutchess County seeks to create a better record for future leaders and historians who may look back on current residents’ experiences for inspiration. The survey records residents’ experiences and opinions regarding a variety of topics, including the gradual expansion of Coronavirus geographically and how responses to the virus have affected the patterns of their daily lives. The survey does not record medical information; rather it seeks to create a record of the social implications of the public health crisis.

Dutchess County Historian William P. Tatum III said, “Future generations will look back on the COVID-19 pandemic as a formative moment in our history. Through this survey, Dutchess County residents have the opportunity to ensure  future historians will have access to their thoughts, feelings and experiences when seeking to understand the full impact of this pandemic.”

Responses to the survey will become part of a special COVID-19 collection within the Dutchess County Archives. While the survey data will be a public record, names will be withheld from publication. Residents can answer the survey as many times as they like in order to record any changes in their thinking as the crisis continues. The Department of History is developing a follow-up survey to launch once the crisis has passed.

For more information, or to submit photographs, videos, and other forms of documentation, please contact the Dutchess County Department of History at wtatum@dutchessny.gov.