Goodbye 2020 – You’ll Go Down in History (on Microfilm)

It’s easy to look back at 2020 and focus on all the negatives. And there were plenty. But for all the struggles, we’ve again shown our collective resilience and abilities to adjust when necessary.

In the future, when we look back on 2020, we’ll probably identify this as the year “virtual” finally became “normal.” Our trade shows, exhibitions and conferences became virtual. Our business meetings and demos became virtual. Education went virtual. Even many of our family gatherings turned virtual.

Though 2020 will always be remembered for the pandemic, plenty more took place this year. Australia was scarred by immense wildfires (as was California and Colorado later in the year). England left the EU and British royalty left the royal family. “Murder hornets” became a thing in the U.S. There were also demonstrations in the United States the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the 1960s. Oh, and there was a historic election you may have heard something about.

All these, and other events, will go down in recorded history, but none are likely to supersede COVID. It’s interesting to think about how people 100 years from now will look back on our coronavirus pandemic. And when they do, it’s likely many will use microfilm while conducting their research. In fact, it was COVID that had historians, journalists and other everyday researchers tapping into microfilm archives for information on our most readily relatable situation – the so-called Spanish flu epidemic.

The Spanish flu pandemic lasted from 1918 until 1920, and by sheer numbers dwarfed the impacts of COVID-19, leaving millions dead and infecting about a third of the global population. We were able to draw comparisons to life during the Spanish flu experience thanks in large part to microfilm archives.

The National Archives, for example, put together this online exhibit. Local newspapers also got in on the act, digging up century old editions that showed how life was impacted in those communities a hundred years ago, such as this article in the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, VA.

In another somewhat eerie case, there was this exhibit preview from East Carolina University that two years ago (well before COVID was a regular part of our vocabulary) recognized the centennial anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic.

In all these instances, microfilm was the primary source of record. Digital storage may be here for now, but microfilm will still have its place 100 years from now, when people are looking back at our coronavirus pandemic. e-ImageData is proud to be a part of this medium that provides a window into our history. We love supporting the research and memories that educate, stimulate and inspire. We thank our clients for supporting us for another year and look forward to making many more archives in the years to come.


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