The Portland Contemporary Archive is an ongoing digital archive of stories from you, our community members, about life in and around Portland, Maine.
Abraham, the Archivist at Portland Public Library (PPL), began this project under the name Isolating Together in April, 2020 as a way to provide members of the Portland community with a place to share their experience about life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Archives provide future generations a richer view of history, first-person documentation of our times and lives. This is an opportunity to document our own histories for future historians and social scientists trying to make sense of it a hundred years from now!
We invite you to browse this archive and also to contribute to it and explain or show your daily life through poetry, letters, diary entries, original artwork, audio files, doodles, or comics. Sharing our stories will keep us socially connected and preserve them for the future.
The Portland Contemporary Archive, a project from PPL, is part of the Maine Contemporary Archives project. This collaborative, statewide initiative uses the Omeka platform to document life in Maine. Omeka is a free, open-source content management system for online digital collections. The initiative’s Omeka sites are supported by the Maine State Library, using federal CARES Act funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
Browse the Archive
Greater Portland is a vibrant region, filled with creative and adventurous individuals. As a community, we are integral to one another, and the Library is integral to our community. Click through the gallery to see what Portlanders have contributed.
Not in Portland? Check out archives from around the state at the Maine Contemporary Archive.
Contribute to the Archive
How are you weathering the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic? Contribute your thoughts, poetry, letters, diary entries, original artwork, doodles or comics to this online archive. Archives provide future generations a richer view of history, first-person documentation of our times and lives. This is an opportunity to document our own histories for future historians and social scientists trying to make sense of it a hundred years from now!
Need help getting started? Try working with some of these prompts:
- Are your morning routines different now than they were when the pandemic began? How so?
- As you find ways to stay motivated during these times, write about a “theme song” or a personal motto that is with you through this- and write about its importance to you.
- What gets you laughing these days?
- How have your reading, or listening, or viewing habits / tastes changed since the pandemic began?
Your submission will be published on our Omeka site, and preserved for future researchers. We may also share on our library social media. Ready to make history?
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I contribute?
Take a look at this list of prompts. Perhaps something here will inspire you to jot down a few thoughts, snap a photograph, make a short sound recording, or create a piece of artwork. You could also interview a family member or make a short video.
- Show us your day in one photo. Please caption it, too.
- What gets you laughing these days? What is one thing that always cheers you up?
- How have you been keeping in touch with friends and family?
- Has the pandemic changed the way you think about your home, town, state, country, or the natural environment?
- Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself or your community?
- Have you started or planned any new personal projects or hobbies?
- What do you hope to do when the pandemic is over?
- What do you want future historians to know about your experience?
- When looking to the future, will you do things differently?
What ideas, habits, etc. will you take with you into the future days?
How do I contribute?
Click on the “Contribute an Item” page, choose the item type, and complete the form. Be sure to check the “Publish my contribution on the web” box at the end of the form. Once the contribution form is submitted, project staff will review the submission before it is made available online. We may add tags or descriptive information so that it’s easier to find when visitors search the site.
We aim to review web-based submissions within 48 hours, although there may be delays.
You may also submit by mail. We will scan or photograph your submission and upload the image to our digital archive (and we’ll save your original drawing or text in our archives). Please provide any additional information we might need to include in the archive (your name, a description of the piece in your own words, etc.). You can mail submissions to:
Portland Public Library
5 Monument Square
Portland, ME 04101
You may also contribute to the online archive by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What should I NOT contribute?
Please do not submit material that may violate the privacy and security of someone else. Please make sure that your submission does not include sensitive personal information about other individuals, including personal health information.
Who owns the items I submit?
You own the copyright. By submitting content, you grant Portland Public Library the right to disseminate, preserve, and use that content in connection with its educational and research mission, including promotional purposes, in all media in perpetuity.
Who will have access to my content?
This site is accessible to the public via the library’s website. The goal of this project is to share stories and experiences now and with future researchers. Your email address will not be made public but it is necessary to include it when you submit. You may choose to enter “anonymous” in the Creator field, or just your first name, if you choose.
Why do you need my email address?
If you submit via the web form, an email address is required for all submissions. Email addresses are not published to the web and will be viewable only by library staff. They will not be shared with researchers.
What types of file formats can I submit?
The site can accept many types of digital file formats, but the below work best. The upload file size limit is 128 MB, so if you have something bigger, please contact us at email@example.com
- Written: PDF will guarantee that your formatting is preserved, but you can also type directly into the contribution form
- Mixed Media (text with images, handwritten time capsule, etc): PDF
- Photo/Still Image: JPEG or PNG
- Video: MP4
- Audio: MP3
For a complete list of acceptable file types, click here: https://info.omeka.net/build-a-website/managing-files/
Terms and Conditions
By submitting content you are granting Portland Public Library permission to disseminate, preserve, and use that content in connection with its educational and research mission, including promotional purposes, in all media in perpetuity. You retain ownership of and copyright in the material you share, in this particular project & collection.
By posting content, including but not limited to text, videos, photographs, and links to external sites on the Website, users agree to comply with all requirements and procedures for posting, and to avoid abusive and offensive language and to refrain from posting any content that is commercial in nature, advocates for a political cause or legislation, or infringes upon any third party’s rights, including privacy, copyright, trademark, or patent. PPL does not endorse any opinions or recommendations posted by users or third parties.
By submitting material, you voluntarily agree to contribute this item to the Isolating Together archive, affirming that
(1) You are 13 years of age or older and
(2) You are the creator of this item.
- This item is in the public domain.
- You are a parent or guardian submitting this item on behalf of your child.
What if I still have questions?
If you have a question that is not covered here, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Created in April, 2020 by our Archivist, Abraham, who was inspired by an ongoing popular Covid-19 blog project (the Boston Globe’s “Postcards from the Pandemic”), Portland Contemporary Archive, originally titled Isolating Together, is now part of a network of Maine libraries – along with many kindred archival collecting efforts across the country. Thanks in part to Federal CARES Act funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Maine State Library was able to purchase the Omeka platform for libraries across Maine to host and publish submissions to their own local Covid archives for future preservation.
If you would like more information about the Portland Contemporary Archive project, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
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