“They are placed on the cots until every bed is full and yet others crowd in. The faces soon wear a bluish cast; a distressing cough brings up the blood stained sputum. In the morning the dead bodies are stacked about the morgue like cord wood.”
—Victor Vaughan, A Doctor’s Memories
An estimated 650,000 Americans lost their lives to the infamous and tragic 1918-1919 influenza epidemic, a small but significant fraction of the approximately 50 million deaths the disease caused worldwide. Countless more were left without parents, children, friends, and loved ones. Communities across the country did what they could to stem the rising tide of illness and death, closing their schools, churches, theaters, shops and saloons. Doctors, nurses, and volunteers gave their time – and, occasionally, their lives – to care for the ill.
These pages contain the stories of the places, the people, and the organizations that battled the American influenza epidemic of 1918-1919.