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CHARLES TOWN—Pictures showing how COVID-19 changed the lives of county residents are featured in a new online exhibit called, “Jefferson County During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” sponsored by the Jefferson County Museum.

“I wanted to document a significant moment in history. I wanted to make sure pictures of this event were preserved for years later for future generations,” said Sarah Huston, museum curator and outreach coordinator.

Beginning in April, photographs were collected by museum volunteers, as well as submissions from other county residents. Those submitting photographs were asked to include where and when the photo was taken in the county, the name of the photographer, and a short story about how the photographer felt about the pandemic.

“We’ve received more than 100 pictures. The project is ongoing,” said Huston.

Digital images can be sent electronically to curator@jeffcomuseumwv.org

Huston said the pictures showed how the community came together for the Charles Town Farmers Market, wearing masks and social distancing, and participating in early voting. Some also showed an all too common experience nearly all residents shared.  

“The empty shelves at the Weis Markets in Ranson. So many people were panic buying,” Huston said.

A mask lying on the ground in Harpers Ferry is a sad reflection of how some residents were feeling. However, a variety of pictures were more whimsical like the mask-wearing sign at Maria’s Taqueria in Shepherdstown. Another Shepherdstown business, O’Hurley’s General Store, had a sign that declared a “Covid Holiday. Closed Till May 1.”

Huston said two clever but also poignant pictures were the idea of Sophia Smith of Charles Town who was upset by her high school graduation being postponed. Her mother Marissa Smith took a picture of Sophia in her graduation robe, along with a plague doctor’s mask used at Halloween. Doctors wore such masks during the bubonic plague that raged around the world from 1346 to 1353.

Marissa submitted this quote to the museum. “For me, as her mother, this photo will forever represent the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps one of these [photos] can help capture the angst of our 2020 high school seniors.”

Huston added, “It is sad about the postponed graduation but a memory, too.”

To see the exhibit, go to the museum’s website at  www.jeffcomuseumwv.org. Under “Exhibits,” click on “Virtual exhibits.”

The Jefferson County Museum is now open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, up to six visitors are permitted at a time except eight are allowed if from a single household. Visitors must agree to wear masks and distance six feet or more from others.

The  museum was founded in 1965 with the mission to preserve the history and heritage of the county. 

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