Tag: pandemic

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 →

Why We Need to Talk About Death Right Now

I can hear some of you say, “Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?” That’s the same question American cartoonist Roz Chast’s parents asked her when she wanted to talk to them about their deaths. Her title represents the general attitude towards death in American society today. Even in the midst of a global pandemic,… Read more →

Pandemic Academic: Mothering from the Home Office

Twelve years ago, Baby #2 fell asleep in her carseat on the way to the hospital for the weekly mother’s support group. Insomniac Baby #1 had taught us a crucial sanity lesson: let sleeping people sleep. So I picked up Mama, PhD from the passenger seat and settled in for some unexpected reading. Since the… Read more →

The Cruise Ship as Disease Heterotopia

We know the images: cruise ships with sick passengers searching for a place to dock or turned into off-shore quarantine sites as passengers and crew are not allowed to disembark. In the time of COVID-19, the cruise ship has become a harbinger of and a vector for contagion and death. This is not new. Cruise… Read more →

The Vaccine at the End of this Pandemic

In the summer of 1952, parents didn’t let their children visit playgrounds, swimming pools were closed, movie theaters shuttered, and when September finally arrived, some public schools didn’t open. The polio epidemic reached its peak that year, after several years of steadily increasing numbers of infections and deaths. In early December 1952, The New York… 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 →