During a 1950s polio epidemic, some quarantined Newfoundland schoolchildren watched their lessons on television. Maureen Peters’ aunt told her their family could not afford to own a TV set, and sometimes they had to watch through a neighbour’s window.
Now, with the world in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, Peters is seeking out similar stories and items for a collection at the provincial gallery and archive where she is the acting curator of history.
In a phone interview from St. John’s, Peters said The Rooms is eager to document how people are coping with the current pandemic to build a record for the future.
“You look into the history and go, ‘We’ve had four other pandemics at least hit Newfoundland since the 1850s, and stuff wasn’t collected,”‘ she said.
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“So what can we collect now to … support the story going forward?”
Peters said parallels are emerging between the current lockdown and the polio quarantine – for example,