Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The influenza pandemic in 1918-1919 killed more people worldwide in a shorter period than any other known historical epidemic. Wartime conditions and gatherings of large groups of people aided disease transmission. Racial segregation in Baltimore and other cities created overcrowding, and poor living and economic conditions for black citizens. These conditions affected black health and proved conducive to increased viral transmission and subsequent influenza infection. Higher influenza infection rates coupled with lower resistance led to higher mortality rates from secondary complications like pneumonia.
In my work, I examine the pandemic flu in Baltimore and especially racial segregation policies that ultimately affected black health and mortality during the event. Segregation caused overcrowding and poor living conditions. It also decreased the ability of blacks to receive medical or nursing care in the civilian and military sectors. Eugenic assumptions about African-American capabilities, in addition to the overwhelming demands of the pandemic emergency, allowed Baltimore’s white community to justify their disregard of the crisis in the African-American community.
Michalski, Victoria L., "GERMS KNOW NO COLOR: RACIAL SEGREGATION IN BALTIMORE DURING THE INFLUENZA PANDEMIC OF 1918-1919" (2016). Electronic Thesis Collection. Paper 82.