Thursday, April 2, 2020

Local History in the Time of COVID-19

Like most of us in this time of crisis, I'm working from home and maintaining social distance while worrying about myself, my family and friends, my community, the nation, and the world.

My day job keeps me plenty busy: I'm coordinating the Boston University Libraries support for remote teaching and learning. But as volunteer head of the Brookline Historical Society I haven't stopped engaging—mostly on the weekends—in the local history work I enjoy so much. It's good for my mental health, and I hope it provides some distraction, entertainment, and education for others.

Ken doing research in the kitchen
I've turned two of my neighborhood walking tours—Coolidge Corner and the Beaconsfield Terraces—into video tours you can watch on your computers or other devices. I'm hoping to develop virtual tours you can consult on your phones to learn more about different sites as you go for walks, one of the few external activities we can still enjoy.

I was interviewed last weekend by the Brookline Interactive Group about Brookline in the 1918-19 flu pandemic, which I wrote about back in 2009. (It will air soon on the Web and local cable TV.)

I'll be producing more of these videos and other ways of sharing local history (as time and energy allow). I hope to put together some online guides to doing local history research and other ways of helping others explore the history of our town.

The coronavirus crisis has delayed our usual Brookline Historical Society membership drive, but if you're a current or past member, please renew your membership. And if you're not a member but enjoy local history, please join us. (I confess it feels a little awkward to ask when we are all worried not just about our health but about our financial futures and those of local businesses, government services, and the more vulnerable among us and in society.)

Membership dues and donations provide essential support for our free educational programs, including lectures, open houses, and walking tours, and for the care and maintenance of our collections. As a member you will also receive the Society newsletter, advanced notice of events, and invitations to annual members-only presentations in historic homes and buildings.

Membership information is available on our website (along with historic photos, stories, research sources, and much more.)

In any case, I hope you can enjoy learning about the past even while worrying about the future and, most importantly, taking care of yourselves and others in the present.


Ken Liss
President, Brookline Historical Society

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! You have a new fan here. Thank you for organizing the at-home "walking" tour of Coolidge Corner! It was very informative and fun to learn about the history of this area - so much so that I signed up for a membership! Your work is very much appreciated during this time. I love the idea of the virtual tours while going for walks! I always wonder about the history of buildings I'm walking by. Thanks again!