UWM history professor collects items to document health crisis

Posted at 4:30 AM, Apr 03, 2020

MILWAUKEE — A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor is documenting the COVID-19 pandemic by collecting items in the community.

In two weeks, Assistant Professor Chris Cantwell has gathered more than 150 items from about 100 people in the community. He’s specifically documenting the uniquely Milwaukee aspects of this health crisis.

“So, seeing people lining up outside of bars to pick up their Friday fish fry that you may hit see anywhere else is what I'm hoping to capture," said Cantwell.

Cantwell has seen submissions ranging from pictures of empty shelves to families celebrating birthdays in a much different way.

Including, a grandmother stopping by to see her family safely thorough the window.

And the social distancing version of charades.

“It's certainly interesting to have your world turned upside down in the span of a week,” said Cantwell about living history.

Back from spring break, his students studying from home will now take over the project, to document the emotional side of this unprecedented event in our lifetime.

Cantwell adds, “After the pandemic passes I'm working with colleagues in the nursing college to maybe go out and do some oral history from medical professionals once they have the head space to do something like that.”

Showing when this is all over, there still will be a lot we can all learn from.

Click here if you would like to look through the photos and documents gathered so far, or submit an item yourself.

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