Revisiting the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19

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Publication Date

Spring 2021


COVID-19 took the world by storm a year ago this March, and we are still feeling the effects of it. This paper seeks to revisit the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918 to see how people dealt with past pandemics and how people reacted to various policies and guidelines for health and safety, in order to bring a historical perspective to the current pandemic. The Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918 was a major pandemic that offers considerable information and many parallels to what we are dealing with today. Furthermore, scholars like James Shidler and Howard Philips argue that the Spanish Flu has been unfairly forgotten by mainstream memory in favor of more romanticized historical events. In revisiting the Influenza Pandemic, looking at newspapers, various medical journals, and other well-known monographs on the subject this paper shows various similarities in the way people reacted to disease. The Spanish Flu, just like COVID today became a politicized and controversial topic that looked similar to what we see today in people fighting back against health and safety laws like mask wearing, social distancing, and mandatory quarantines.


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