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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 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?
Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2020-06-17

Some people may find it daunting to record their thoughts in long prose but poetry can offer a creative outlet to express thoughts and experiences.

Poetry as a way of recording historical moments has a long tradition. Some examples include “Million Man March Poem” by Maya Angelou and “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?” by Langston Hughes. Both poems highlight a moment in time and the authors’ thoughts about what that moment means to them as well as what those moments mean in a larger context.

There are many ways to write poems. Short or long, serious or light-hearted, poetry is a flexible art form. Your journal could be all poems or you may wish to sprinkle them in as inspiration hits.

One way you can try creating a poem is through blackout poetry. Cut out an article from a newspaper or magazine and use a pen or marker to black out all the words except the ones you want to be the text of your poem.

Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2020-06-15

This month as New York starts to re-open many of us are heading back to our offices and workspaces after two or three months of telecommuting or being furloughed. Most of us are encountering new safety measures, reduced staffing, and desks that seem like time capsules from the last time we saw them.

As we start this phase of re-opening some things you may wish to document in your journal are:

  • What, if anything, has changed for you at work?
  • How do you feel about going back to your workplace? Is it stressful or are you happy to get out of the house?
  • What did you miss most about your workplace?
  • What is something you'll miss about telecommuting?
Submitted by NYSL Staff on 2020-06-05

For future historians to know and understand this time in history it is vital that every voice possible is included. This is especially true for historically unheard voices. Your perspective is needed, your voice is important, your experiences will show a fuller picture of life in New York at this time.

Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992) is a clear example of someone who represents several historically unheard groups. A black transgender woman who dealt with mental health issues and was economically disadvantaged, Marsha was an outspoken gay liberation and AIDS activist who protested in the vanguard at the Stonewall riots in 1969. Following Stonewall Marsha and her friend Sylvia Rivera founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), an organization which sought to help homeless gay youth. Marsha was also a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), a group working to end the AIDS pandemic.