When COVID-19 and collections meet…

by Jennifer Blomqvist

DeKalb County Board of Health photo collection, DeKalb History Center

It was mid-March and I was in the middle processing a collection of photos from the DeKalb County Board of Health. I love the feeling of the photos in my hand, not to mention the experience of traveling back in time when looking through archival material. The act of putting a collection together in folders and boxes is very satisfying. Organizing is my jam! But the work had to be delayed. COVID-19 hit, we closed the DeKalb History Center, and began working remotely. I never imagined the day, when, as an archivist, I would need to work from home. But it happened. It happened to many of us.  I boxed up the photo collection until I could get back to it, grabbed some files and books from the shelf to read from home, and left the archives. That was two months ago. Health in general, health care workers, and the health of DeKalb citizens have been on my mind a lot lately. I find it so ironic that I was processing the Board of Health collection when this pandemic hit us all.

Blood pressure test, DeKalb County Board of Health collection, DeKalb History Center

The DeKalb County Board of Health was formed in 1924, with one health officer, a school nurse, a maternal health nurse, and a clerk. It was located in an old house on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Decatur. A new facility in Decatur was completed in the 1950s, with health centers in Doraville, Lynwood Park, Brookhaven, and Scottdale.  Services provided included dental work, a school health program, and insect control. DeKalb County was the first county in Georgia with a fluoridated public water supply. In the 1960s, there were 136 employees. By the 1990s, there were many more services under the umbrella of the DeKalb Board of Health. In 2000, the Board of Health had slightly over 500 employees. And in 2020, the DeKalb Board of Health is on the frontlines of COVID-19 care for its citizens. For all the work they are doing, we say “thank you!” And we thank you for the contribution of archival material to the history center. The collection of photos, scrapbooks, newsletters, and more will be available for researchers once we are again open to the public. We look forward to seeing you!

All photos are part the DeKalb Board of Health collection at the DeKalb History Center.

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