History as it Happens

COVID-19 Stories

The San Mateo County Historical Association would like to collect stories that chronicle changes to people’s daily lives in the wake of COVID-19.  Journal entries from the past provide a glimpse into what daily life was like during a specific time period.  They also provide insight by showing individual reactions to significant historical events.

The San Mateo County Historical Association’s valuable collection of memories of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake relate to a single day’s incident.  This time, there is an on-going adjustment to a necessary change in life-style.  Everyone is invited to share their stories of daily life, the impact of protests and other events during the shelter-in-place.  People of all ages, races, sexes, backgrounds are all welcome to participate.

Teachers, this is a great idea for a class/group project! Jump to the Children’s Stories section for instructions.

Street sign that says If you don't live down here please dont come down here

Written/Typed Journal Submissions

Journal entries can be daily or weekly, and over time document how the pandemic has impacted your life, your family and your perspective of the world.  To record changing opinions, we encourage you to keep the journal for a month.  You are welcome to extend your journal longer.

Daily Life/Family

  • Are you working from home? How has the pandemic affected your daily work schedule?
  • If you have children, how are they coping to the change in their routine/being out of school?
  • How are you/your family trying to stay in good spirits?


  • Are you experiencing unemployment/financial hardship? Do you own a business that has been affected by the quarantine? If so, how has this hardship affected you/your family?
  • Are you working for an essential business during this time? If so, detail your experience/feelings/concerns about working during this pandemic.
  • Are you a health care worker? What are your experiences?


  • Has your concern about the Coronavirus changed over time? Why or why not?
  • Have you, or anyone you know been diagnosed with the Coronavirus? What was your/their experience?
  • How do you interact with others without putting them or yourself at risk?

If you are unable to commit to a daily or weekly journal, but still want to submit a story, you can fill out a short, 1-page form.

Other Ways to Submit Your Story

There are other alternatives to a written journal.  Potential subjects/topics are provided under each option.


  • Use some of the writing prompts above, or address other topics that come to mind.


  • Photographs of your home (working from home, supervising student homework)
  • Photos from your neighborhood (people social distancing/wearing masks, empty store shelves, lines in grocery stores)


  • Express how the shelter-in-place makes you feel
  • Artwork of daily life under shelter-in-place
  • “Propaganda” posters promoting shelter-in-place, social distancing or not hoarding supplies (similar to old World War II posters)
  • Social justice issues

Capturing Children’s Stories

The Association also recognizes the importance of children’s perspective on the pandemic.  (For this project we define children as anyone aged 17 or younger.)

We invite children to submit their stories in the following ways:

Written/Typed journal

Journal entries can be daily or weekly, and over time document how the pandemic has impacted their lives.  In addition to documenting their daily lives, they can respond to the writing prompts listed below.  Children may answer one question a week, or answer the same question(s) over time. There is no right or wrong way to journal.

Suggested Writing Prompts:

  • How does staying at home make you feel?
  • How did you spend most of your time yesterday?
  • What do you like about staying home from school?
  • What do you miss about school?
  • Are there any ways you can play with friends without seeing them face-to-face?
  • When we no longer have to stay away from other people, what’s the first thing you want to do?

If your child/children are unable to commit to a daily or weekly journal, but still want to submit a story, we have a children’s version of the Google form.

Other Ways to Submit Children’s Stories

Children are also encouraged to submit alternative methods of expression.


  • Use some of the writing prompts above, or talk about your daily life in quarantine.


  • Photographs of your home (doing homework, playing with friends, spending time with family)
  • Photos from your neighborhood


  • Draw/paint how the shelter in place makes you feel
  • Draw/paint about your daily life under shelter-in-place
  • What do you miss the most about not being able to go out?