Spanish Flu Pandemic - PICTURES OF CHAOS

PICTURES OF CHAOS (Illustration) American History Famous Historical Events Geography Medicine Social Studies World War I Disasters

Spanish Flu also severely impacted Japan.  The caption of this 1919 poster wishfully states:  "If treated quickly it gets better right away."  Image online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Pictures from official archives provide a glimpse of those troubled times when Americans experienced “the worst epidemic the United States has ever known.”

  • As flu quickly spread, local governments around the country closed places where people congregate. Theaters were shut down. So were schools where students, like those in San Diego, wore face masks.

  • During October of 1918, as the war took its toll on soldiers and treasured European buildings (like the St. Quentin Cathedral in France), the Spanish Flu took its toll on the U.S. population. More Americans died in October of that year than any other month during the epidemic.

  • Flu villages, where sick people did their best to cope in tents, were another way to isolate the well from the ill.

  • Convalescing patients were cared for outdoors. Despite such precautions, at least 25% of the U.S. population got the flu during 1918.
  • Nurses, who cared for patients outdoors, also drew their water outside.  Doctors, nurses and other health-care providers were all exposed to the rapidly spreading virus.

  • By November, the worst month of deaths had passed. But doctors at Love Field, in Texas, were still spraying the throats of soldiers in an effort to ward off the illness.

  • In February of 1919, American soldiers (like this unfortunate flu victim in Bordeaux) were still dying in France.

  • Alexander Graham Bell (in a letter to his wife) discussed the devastating effects of Spanish Influenza.

People everywhere were debilitated by the disease. But because so many countries were involved in World War I, censorship in belligerent nations kept the bad news, for the most part, out of the papers. That, at least in part, may help to explain why a worldwide 20th century disaster is so little-known today.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: Nov 07, 2017

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"PICTURES OF CHAOS" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 01, 2006. Feb 24, 2020.
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