THE CITY’S MISSING THEM project began in the spring of 2020 with a clear goal: to track down every New Yorker who died of COVID-19 and tell a story about their life. COVID-19 disproportionately affected Black and Latino people — yet the stories in traditional obituary pages skewed white and male.
By turning to local communities to crowdsource stories, the MISSING THEM team created a memorial that more accurately reflects the makeup of New York City. The project has published more than 500 obituaries, and recorded another 2,100 names of people who died of COVID. Following tips generated by the project, MISSING THEM also led to exposés on the pandemic response in city jails, in nursing homes and on Hart Island — the city’s potter’s field, where an estimated 1 in 10 New Yorkers who died of COVID-19 in 2020 are buried.
Now, three years on, THE CITY is partnering with Photoville to bring stories, obituaries and photos of New Yorkers who died to Elmhurst, Queens and the South Bronx — two neighborhoods that were heavily impacted by the pandemic. COVID has now killed more than 45,000 New Yorkers. The constellation of stories from the project helps to put faces and names to this devastating figure, and to help New Yorkers heal.