Article ID: CBB957978700

Living With the Flu: Public Health and Civic Life During the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918 (2022)


Most studies of how United States cities responded to the first deadly wave of Spanish influenza focus on the ways public health officials and their allies reacted to the crisis. This study expands our understanding of the pandemic by focusing on how members of the public responded to those efforts to contain the flu. It does so through a close look at social and civil life in a small city in the southern Midwest during the thirty-two days the flu was epidemic there. Shifting the focus in this way brings previously obscured gaps in the public health response into the light. Specifically, this study finds that while compliance in most areas was high there were two places where it was low: activities in support of American involvement in the European War, and participation in social or civic activities. From the first day of the epidemic to the last the society pages of the local newspapers reported a stream of activities that clearly violated emergency measures. Despite the ban on public gatherings, social clubs, fraternal societies, and civic groups all regularly met. The local college football team practiced, and people continued to turn out for weddings, funerals, birthday parties, dinner parties, and extended visits from out-of-town friends and family. With one possible exception, none of the social or civic activities were carried out as protests against health regulations. Instead local newspapers reported these activities as items of social interest.

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Authors & Contributors
Honigsbaum, Mark
Martinez Martin, Abel Fernando
Ospina Diaz, Juan Manuel
Herran Falla, Oscar Fernando.
Mamelund, Svenn-Erik
Dimka, Jessica
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Canadian Journal of Health History/Revue canadienne d’histoire de la santé
Social Science History
Medizin, Gesellschaft, und Geschichte
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Social History of Medicine
Oxford University Press
I. B. Tauris
University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)
Cambridge University
University of California Press
HarperCollins Publishers
Public health
Medicine and society
Infectious diseases
Disease and diseases
Time Periods
20th century, early
21st century
19th century
20th century, late
16th century
United States
Bogotá (Colombia)
Alaska (U.S.)

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