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‘A Snapshot Of Time’: Chronicling Life In DeKalb County During COVID-19 Pandemic

This is one of the photos Decatur resident Elliott Augustine submitted to the DeKalb History Center. The center has been collecting items for its "COVID-19 Chronicles" project.
This is one of the photos Decatur resident Elliott Augustine submitted to the DeKalb History Center. The center has been collecting items for its "COVID-19 Chronicles" project.
Credit Courtesy of Elliott Augustine
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Elliott Augustine had a stack of masks in his attic way before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“Even when H1N1 was going on, I was thinking, ‘This might come back,’” the Decatur resident said. “I didn’t hoard or buy a ton of them, but I did buy some N95 masks and stuff like that.”

He’s now been able to submit pictures of himself in masks and a face shield to the DeKalb History Center.

Decatur resident Elliot Augustine in a face shield, one of his photos submitted to the DeKalb History Center's “The COVID-19 Chronicles” project. (Courtesy of Elliot Augustine)
Decatur resident Elliott Augustine in a face shield, one of his photos submitted to the DeKalb History Center. Augustine likes to chronicle history. (Courtesy of Elliott Augustine)

The center has been collecting items for its “COVID-19 Chronicles” project. The goal is to show how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting communities in DeKalb. 

One of the pictures Augustine submitted includes him in a black suit, black gloves and a black mask.

“People seem to like that look better than some of my other looks,” he says.

Marissa Howard, programs and membership coordinator at the DeKalb History Center, says no item is too mundane for submission.

“We’re looking for photographs, voice memos, poems, recordings, images. Even things like grocery receipts will be interesting and pertinent for someone generations from now,” Howard said.

The Atlanta History Center has a similar project documenting the pandemic.

“I think a lot of people are taking pictures on social media, but is it really being recorded in the same way that historical documents are?” Howard said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do. Document it, save it in a central place but also in a local place, too.”

No stranger to recording historical events, Augustine photographed the implosion of the Georgia Archives building in 2017 with drones.

Augustine thinks of himself as a futurist who reveres chronicling history.

“I think it’s like a time capsule … it’s like a snapshot of time.”

The DeKalb History Center has collected nearly 60 submissions. Those include prose from teenagers on how they’re keeping busy to reflections on learning how to fix a faucet. 

Asked what he would like future generations to know about the coronavirus pandemic, Augustine says, “Just that we were all trying to do what we could to stop the spread of this.”