Archive This Moment DC

Archive This Moment DC

Archive This Moment DC is a participatory archive launched by the DC Public Library. Archive this Moment DC started in March 2020 as a way for District residents to document what happened when the COVID-19 pandemic brought life in Washington, D.C. to a standstill. Because of this success, the Library is making it an annual effort that documents the most significant event that occurred over the last 12 months.

Building Archive This Moment DC 2021


In 2021 the Library asked people to share how COVID-19 changed their lives. People could submit up to five items (photos, text, videos) through the end of June 2021. Library archivists will organize the submissions, create complete records of the materials and make them available online. Unfortunately, no additional items were added to the collection.

Recap of Archive This Moment DC 2020


Archive This Moment D.C. 2020 tells the story of daily life in the District during the initial quarantine period of March 25, 2020 to May 28, 2020.   More than 2,000 items were collected and have been uploaded to the People's Archives digital platform, Dig DC. The majority of the items were collected in April, followed by May and March. The collection includes selfies and portraits of people in masks; handmade signs of support for essential workers and the community; people navigating the city during the pandemic; and signs posted in business windows about closures, restrictions, and new ways of operating. All four quadrants of the District are represented in the collection. Click here to see the 2020 Archive this Moment DC Collection.

The Importance of First-Person History

First-person accounts are an essential part of telling the city's history. They go beyond familiar narratives and offer a glimpse into how significant events impacted daily life.  For example, Dr. Darrell C. Crain Jr., a local rheumatologist and amateur photographer, documented historic events in Washington, D.C. over 50 years, including the March on Washington. His collection provides a vibrant glimpse of the past. The Library hopes that Archive This Moment DC makes a similar contribution to the city's local history. 

Documenting Protests

Collecting and preserving complex narratives of DC political, social and cultural history often includes documenting protest movements. Sometimes, this documentation has been used to identify people who participated in protests.

The Library chose not to collect materials from any protests for this year's Archive This Moment DC. The Society of American Archivists created a resource kit, Collecting in Times of Crisis, that guided the Library's decisions. The Library also consulted resources from WITNESS and Blackavists

While at some point in the future the Library may collect items from these protests, there are steps that people can take to preserve their documentation. Learn more from the Library's Memory Lab.  In addition, DocNow has created a list of volunteer archivists who are available to help. 

About the People’s Archive

The People’s Archive connects you to unique resources that illustrate the District of Columbia’s local history and culture. We are a home of discovery, where diverse stories--past and present--are preserved and amplified.

The People's Archive at the DC Public Library documents the social, cultural and political life in the District of Columbia dating back to the late 18th Century. It does this by collecting and preserving personal papers, business and organizational records, photographs, oral histories, maps and other items. 

Dig DC is made possible in part with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.