October 12, 1918: The Spanish Flu

The Spanish Flu Rages On

Between January 1918 and December 1920, the Spanish Flu killed up to 625,000 Americans and more than 50 million people worldwide.1 2 If you search your own family tree, chances are, you’ll find at least one ancestor who fell victim to this pandemic. Cause of death was often listed as pneumonia, emphysema, or some other respiratory illness brought on by the flu virus.

Below is an article from The Morning Call, Allentown, PA, dated October 12, 1918.3 A few interesting bits of info from the article:

  • Between September 23 and October 11, about 24,918 cases of Spanish Flu were reported in Philadelphia.
  • By October 12, An estimated 20-30% of medical workers are infected with the virus.
  • Oct 11: New York state enacts a law making it illegal to sneeze in public without covering the mouth and nose. Violation of this law may result in a $500 fine or one year in prison.

A century ago, readers of this newspaper also had to worry about tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid, and smallpox .4(just to name a few infectious diseases of the time)

Did any of your ancestors succumb to the Spanish Flu or one of the other contagious illnesses of the early 20th century?

(click on image for higher-resolution viewing)

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu
  2. https://www.phmc.pa.gov/Archives/Research-Online/Pages/1918-Influenza-Epidemic.aspx
  3. The Morning Call, 12 Oct 1918, Sat, Page 1
  4. https://www.ncpedia.org/infectious-diseases-part-ii

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