The Influenza Archive

Flu season is definitely upon us – you’ve inevitably seen signs promoting flu shots almost everywhere you go. There was a time when the flu was slightly more concerning than it is today. The University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have created “The Influenza Archive.” The detail and information is pretty impressive, plus they have created city-specific entries for 50 U.S. cities (including St. Louis).

Recently written up in the “Points of Reference” blog maintained by Booklist Online, here’s what they had to say about it:

This archive contains over 16,000 digitized primary source documents about the influenza epidemic of 1918. These include newspaper articles, information about 50 cities and how they dealt with the epidemic, articles about people and organizations involved, and photographs. It is interesting to see how effective non-pharmaceutical interventions  were. There were no vaccines and no antiviral drugs in 1918, so public health workers had to rely on techniques such as social distancing.

The 1918 epidemic is still a source of information for public health planning and policy. We may have vaccines, but it takes time to create them. The older methods of social distancing, hand washing, and covering coughs and sneezes remain important.

So take some time to browse through The Influenza Archive – it’s a very unique and informative resource.

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