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Hindsight 2020 Project

Hindsight 2020

The hugely significant events of 2020 will be with us for years to come. By March of 2020, history was made daily, right before our eyes, and Hindsight 2020 is our attempt to capture it through rapid response collecting.  Hindsight 2020 will be a community collecting initiative to document the events of 2020 and beyond, and their impact on our local community. From a global COVID-19 pandemic that affected every facet of life, to the murder of George Floyd and expansion of the Black Lives Matter movement, to an election unlike any other, there are many local stories to collect, preserve, and share.

The Dubuque County Historical Society is dedicated to collecting around major moments in recent history and preserving items that may be difficult to collect in the future - by asking you, our community, to help. 

Rather than focusing on the prominent and the powerful, Hindsight 2020 will highlight the diverse stories and experiences of everyday people of the greater Dubuque area. 

Why should we collect these materials?

History forms in every single moment and in every individual. The past shapes our present, just as our present shapes the future. Understanding how we fit into our world requires a lot of personal work, but museums can help people on that journey.

It may seem like an oxymoron for a historical society to collect archival materials and artifacts from current events, but our present will be the past for future generations. In order for our children and their children to understand what it was like to live through the year 2020, we have a responsibility to collect the local stories to illuminate, illustrate, and preserve these pivotal moments. 

What do we want?

We are seeking photographs, physical items, documents, video and other materials that connect to the following themes. The list provided here is intended to help spur ideas for submissions. The collection of items is not limited to this list.


  • Early pandemic
  • Ongoing pandemic
  • Vaccination stage, new normal
  • George Floyd
  • Racial tension, killings, protests
  • 2020 Election, Jan 2021 Capitol riots
  • Supply shortages
  • Worker Shortages
  • Layoffs, stimulus/unemployment benefits

COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Government /politics
  • CDC guidelines, Local vs. state vs. national directives
  • Unemployment
  • Economic stimulus
  • Reopening plan
  •  General societal responses to directives (and how these have evolved over time), such as: washing hands, social distancing, staying home/quarantining, disinfecting surfaces, wearing masks. 
  • Social distancing signs from local places
  • Limited capacity in public places
  • Protective shields between workers and customers
  • Handmade masks
  • Work from home
  • Health care
  • PPE, signs, letters, telemedicine, testing kits, and sites
  • Vaccine development and implementation
  • Nursing homes and other care facilities
  • Thanking/recognizing first responders – yard signs
  • Field hospitals (only reached the planning stages in Dubuque)
  •  Manufacturing
  • Local companies repurposed for pandemic related production
  • Concept of essential workers, workers’ rights
  • Food
  • Supply chain, food to first responders/elderly/needy,
  • Grocery stores – limited stock, stockpiling, special time to shop for high-risk populations
  • Restaurants and bars
  • More takeout and delivery of food, modified takeout menus
  • Other consumer products (nonfood) supply chain
  • Toilet paper, hand sanitizer
  • Increase in online shopping
  •  Advertisements or signage geared toward dealing with pandemic – delivery services, curbside pickup, shortages of supplies, etc.
  • Technology
  • Data tracking in public health
  • Vast increase in use of technology and teleworking tool
  • Entertainment
  • Closed venues – theaters, casinos, etc.
  • Virtual concerts
  • Shows as fundraisers
  • Sports
  • Kids/school sports
  • Rec sports
  • Professional sports (Fighting Saints, MLB)
  • Transportation/Travel
  • Air travel/Dubuque airport
  • Local bus service
  • Gas usage, less commuting
  • Hotels, tourism
  • Environmental impact
  • Less pollution due to less travel
  • More PPE in landfills and found as litter
  • Education
  • Local K-16 schools canceled school after spring break 2020
  • Remote and hybrid school in 2020-2021, K-16
  • Home lesson plans or daily school-at-home schedules
  • Changes to prom, graduation, rites of passage
  • Child care
  • New or different adaptations for holidays and family traditions
  •  Increase in outdoor activities
  • Camping, hiking, boating, gardening 
  • Gathering outdoors with people, including distancing, masks instead of inside
  • Online socializing – “game night in” on Zoom, online book clubs
  • Self-care adaptations – outdoor yoga or meditation, leading Zoom exercise classes from your backyard
  • More people tackling home projects, effect on supply chain for building materials.
  • Learning new hobbies or going back to old hobbies (crafting, doing puzzles, watching more tv or movies at home, etc) - Art or crafts created during quarantine/safer-at-home time.
  • Religion
  • Online worship
  • Drive through worship
  • Changes in religious education
  • Changes to weddings, funerals, first communion, confirmation, sacraments

Racial Tensions

  • Protest items such as signs
  • BLM masks or other items supporting the Black community.
  • Photographs of local events surrounding BLM or equity.
  • Signs or other items supporting “All Lives Matter,” “Blue Lives Matter,” “We Back the Badge,” etc.
  • Artwork created in response to recent racial tensions.
  • Materials related to the “Say Their Names” initiative

Election and Politics

  • Political signs and campaign memorabilia from the election, particularly presidential election items with local ties, focused on “out of the ordinary” aspects of the 2020 election.
  • Local connections to the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol
  • Effect of the pandemic on voting
  • Experience of watching the debates.
  • Effect of no campaign rallies
  • Iowa caucus experience in 2020
  • Local political events i.e. MAGA boat parade in the river
  • President Trump’s rally in Dubuque

How to Submit Items for Consideration

To submit items for consideration, simply complete the following form. For questions, contact Kristin Glomstad at or 563-557-9545 x310.