Archives offer essential primary information to historians, scholars from other disciplines including historical epidemiology, families doing genealogies, the media -- for anyone doing research into the past. Some aspects of disease history, such as government measures or official public health responses, are generally recorded for posterity in government archives. Newspapers have been invaluable accounts for establishing timelines, although they must be carefully analysed for their biases and silences.

But once we leave the realm of the ‘public’ record, uncovering past experiences becomes much more challenging. “This pandemic will end,” said Dr. Esyllt Jones, Chair of the Working Group of the Royal Society of Canada that worked on this publication. “Social scientists, humanists, and policymakers will need information to see what has worked, what has not, and how we can equitably and effectively rebuild Canadian society.”