Tag: influenza

Makers of Living, Breathing History: The Material Culture of Homemade Facemasks

Ten days into shelter-in-place orders after my kids’ schools closed, my family and I gathered around the table, staring at a mystery machine. The serendipitous early birthday gift from my mother-in-law – a sewing machine – had been meant for my sabbatical dream of learning to sew. Now, the material I had snagged from a… Read more →

A Complete Halt to the Liquor Traffic: Drink and Disease in the 1918 Epidemic

When the annual Pennsylvania convention of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) began on October 4, 1918, delegates “rejoiced” that the state Board of Health had closed all saloons, and most other sites of public assembly, as a preventive measure against the influenza epidemic. The most influential organization advocating for prohibition, the WCTU pressed for… Read more →

Joking in the Time of Pandemic: The 1889–92 Flu and 2020 COVID-19

As we see with COVID-19, the darkest periods in history expose the best — and worst — of humanity. Some people become virulently racist. Others spend hours caring for the most afflicted. Still more look for safe outlets to vent their fear and anger, often fleeing to laughter to do so. As a number of… Read more →

“Kiss Via Kerchief”: Influenza Warnings in 1918

Just over one hundred years ago, New York Health Commissioner Royal S. Copeland responded to the threat of “Spanish” influenza reaching the United States with the reassuring, if completely misguided, prediction that “there is nothing to be alarmed about so far as I can see.”1 Yet the part of Copeland’s warning that “went viral,” to… Read more →

Whose Body Is it Anyway? Decolonizing Narratives of Aboriginal Prisoners’ Health

When the British colonized Western Australia in 1829, they did so under the legal doctrine of “terra nullius,” or empty land. Of course, the area was inhabited – owned by the Indigenous Nyoongar people who were dispossessed from their land through frontier conflict, disease, physical dependency on European goods, and punishment under British law. By… Read more →