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The Personal History Initiative aims to tell New Yorkers’ stories. What challenges do you face? What obstacles have you overcome? How do current events factor into your everyday life?

Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2022-09-20

New York is known for its towering skyscrapers, but it is also home to one of the largest publicly protected wilderness areas in the United States. City dwellers can’t help but flock north to get a breath of the Adirondacks' fresh mountain air and gaze upon the dappled colors of its undulating landscape in autumn . What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go to get away from it all?

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Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2022-08-22

There’s nothing better than New York in the fall: corn mazes, pumpkin spice, and of course New York apples! Do you have a favorite pumpkin or apple recipe for this time of year, or a favorite memory of harvest season? Whether making a trip to pick from your favorite orchard or enjoying cider with apple cider donuts, fall is beautiful and full of tasty treats! What does fall mean to New Yorkers?

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Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2022-07-28

New York and much of the country have been facing record breaking heat this summer. NYC experienced a long 90-degree streak while parts of upstate New York either saw record-breaking temperatures or it was just plain hot. With this extreme heat, New Yorkers might cool off by taking a swim in a local pool or lake. What's your favorite body of water? Take a pic at your favorite lake, river, or pond!

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Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2022-07-06

Throughout the summer months, fireworks may be used to mark significant events. It’s a way for community to come together as they celebrate and watch fantastic displays. Where do you go to watch fireworks? Do you have an annual tradition with family or friends? Do you prefer to find a quiet place away from the noise? We’d love to hear from you!

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Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2022-05-20

This is our first official challenge of the NYS Personal History Initiative. We're kicking it off with Signs of Summer! What makes you excited about summer? What are you looking forward to? Do you do anything special for the Summer months? Keep cool with some ice cream? Look for fun air-conditioned activities? Or maybe you love the heat and sit out by the community pool? We'd love to hear from you and learn what Summer means to New Yorkers! 

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Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2020-07-31

After the start of NY Pause, when we all realized that our immediate futures included a lot of time at home, a lot of us began to search for ways to keep ourselves busy and pass the time. Some of us started to bake and share our triumphs (and failures) on social media. Some of us tried our hands at a new craft like knitting or embroidery. Some may have even used the time spent home to finally get to those home improvement projects we may have let slide.

If you learned a new hobby or tried your hand at a new activity during NY Pause, you can detail your experiences in your journal. Consider the following when writing:

  • What new hobbies have you discovered?
  • What new activities have you tried?
  • Why did you choose that hobby or activity?
  • Did you have more time to devote to a hobby or activity you already enjoyed?
Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2020-07-24

Art journaling is a way to creatively express yourself using a combination of art and words. It doesn’t need to be complicated or perfect. You don’t need to be an artist to art journal. Spending just fifteen minutes a day jotting down thoughts and drawing, doodling, painting, or however else you’d like to express yourself is a great way to ease into the creative process.

Some ideas to try with art journaling:

  • Create an introduction page and draw a self portrait.
  • Draw a map of any outdoor spaces you may have visited during NY PAUSE.
  • Glue in some headlines from the newspaper and add your thoughts about the stories.
  • Draw or include pictures of your pets and talk about how they handled having their owners home so much.
  • Write a quote or mantra that has inspired you this year and embellish the space around it.
Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2020-07-17

A collaboration between the NYSL COVID-19 Personal History Initiative (PHI) and Summer Reading 2020 came together when State Library colleagues recognized the strong connection between young people documenting their personal history during the pandemic and the 2020 Summer Reading theme of folklore and fairy tales and telling your own story.

Librarians have put together some ideas for Summer Reading programs/activities, which can also be done independently by parents with teens and children. The page also links to a webinar featuring an introduction about both the Summer Reading program and the PHI. Though designed for librarians to use, the webinar may offer an interesting peek into the world of Summer Reading planning. 

Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2020-07-10

Creating a list is a quick way to organize your thoughts and fill a blank page. Lists may be finite or you can continue adding to them as you think of new things. You could fill an entire journal with lists or you may use lists to springboard into other, longer journal entries.

Some ideas for lists include

  • An hourly log of your daily routine or a weekly log of your activities
  • The top books, music, movies, television shows, and/or other media you've enjoyed most during the first part of 2020
  • A list of your accomplishments so far this year, big or small
  • The most valuable life lessons you've learned
  • Your goals for the rest of 2020
Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2020-06-25

A common journaling exercise is to write a letter to yourself. It allows you a moment to think about where you are in your life, how you’ve gotten there and where you hope to be. If you find that you’re facing a blank page and aren’t sure what to write, consider composing a letter to yourself.

  • Letter to your past self: When writing a letter to your past self, think about where you were when the news of COVID-19 first appeared. What advice would present-day you tell past you? Are there any pitfalls you experienced that you would warn yourself about? What moments would you tell your past self to cherish most?
     
  • Letter to your future self: When writing a letter to your future self, think about everything you’ve gone through so far regarding COVID-19. What would you like your future self to remember about this time? What do you hope the world looks like for your future self? What lessons do you want your future self to have learned by living through this moment in history?