1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by entredeuxguerres » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:59 pm

gathering wrote:You know nothing, entredeuxguerres.
Nothing...o tender of the scanty flame? Not even the identity of your alter ego? (As if it could be a secret to anyone with the wit to tell a hawk from a handsaw.)

But truly, Miss Gathering...your displeasure agitates me fiercely.

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:28 pm

Um, can we get this back to mass death?
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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by forgottenvisions » Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:14 am

Frederica wrote:When you say "they probably did think it was the end of the world"--what are you basing that on?
You ask what I am basing my comments on, so I will tell you.

When I about thirteen years old, I was at my grandmother’s house, and I was sitting at the dining room table with her and her friend Mabel and my grandmother happened to mention one of her brothers who had died. My grandmother had two brothers who died within a month of each other but she never told me how they died. So I asked and was told they died of the flu. I had never heard of anyone dying from the flu, how does someone die from the flu? My grandmother replied it was an epidemic and it killed lots of people, and she looked at Mabel and said “Tell her Mabel, tell her how bad it was.”

So Mabel told me. She had been one of eight children, her mother had been the first to contract the flu and within ONE WEEK her mother and six of her brothers and sisters were dead. Only she, her brother, and her father survived.

I just couldn’t understand how something that deadly covered the globe, and killed so many people so quickly could become a passing footnote in history textbooks. It was a mystery that haunted me.

During the mid-1970s, I conducted 76 recorded interviews with survivors of the Spanish flu epidemic. The interviewees had been children, teenagers, and young adults in 1918-19. None of them had served in the armed forces. All of them had resided in the United States but were from different parts of the country. None of the people knew each other. Some of interviewees had contracted the flu, others had not. Some were from ethnic minorities.

ALL of the 76 interviewees voiced at least three of the following concerns and emotions:

1. Fear–It’s a deadly disease. It could kill you, your family, your friends, etc. and you never knew from day to day if you would contract the disease or whose name would appear on the death lists.

2. Helplessness and loss of control–You don’t know what causes it, you don’t know how to prevent it, and there are no vaccines or medicines. Can you contract it from dead people? Can you contract it from touching a handrail? How long is the incubation period? Is the healthy-looking woman standing next to you on the streetcar contagious? How do you keep from contracting it? You don’t know! Your only control option is quarantine

3. Despair—How long would the epidemic last? Will it wipe us out? Is it the end of the world? The mailman is dead, the iceman is dead, the owners of the general store are dead and the store is closed, what do we do? It’s harvest time but we don’t have enough able-bodied people to work, what do we do?

4. LossALL of the interviewees knew someone who died from flu whether the person was a passing acquaintance or someone in their immediate family. While some interviewees experienced minor losses, other interviewees’ losses were catastrophic.

I am only relaying what the survivors said, what they thought at the time, and what they experienced.

The 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic is of it self an objective subject -- it is a fact, an actual reality uninfluenced by emotion. However first person recollections of that "fact" are by nature subjective because they are particular to individuals and subject to the emotions those individuals felt or thought as they experienced the reality of the event.

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by entredeuxguerres » Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:47 am

forgottenvisions wrote:...first person recollections of that "fact" are by nature subjective because they are particular to individuals and subject to the emotions those individuals felt or thought as they experienced the reality of the event.
"Subjective," to be sure, & inescapably so, but so completely in accord with a "common sense" understanding of collective human nature's probable reaction to such a catastrophe that these recollections surely must reflect with reasonable truthfulness the zeitgeist of those frightening "plague years." I don't know if I, transposed back to that time, would have believed, literally, in the "end of the world," but I can well believe I'd have feared the collapse of civil society.

An impressive contribution to an understanding of those times; she speaks "not as the Scribes..."

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by Frederica » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:03 am

forgottenvisions wrote:
Frederica wrote:When you say "they probably did think it was the end of the world"--what are you basing that on?
You ask what I am basing my comments on, so I will tell you.
(snip)
The 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic is of it self an objective subject -- it is a fact, an actual reality uninfluenced by emotion. However first person recollections of that "fact" are by nature subjective because they are particular to individuals and subject to the emotions those individuals felt or thought as they experienced the reality of the event.
Thank you very, very much, that's exactly what I was looking for. What a fascinating project. It hit me last night, I do not recall any member of my family, other than my grandfather, even mentioning the flu, and I was that annoying little girl who always asked questions. They discussed other illnesses (diabetes in particular) but not the flu. I called my auntie last night to ask her if she recalled her parentals or grandparentals mentioning it, she couldn't either. So clearly it doesn't seem to have made much of an impression on my family. As I vaguely recall it was more an urban phenomenon and my family were about as rural as it gets, but I'm going to do some more snooping.

In re: Four Horsemen, Donna said it was originally published in Spain in 1916, so it really isn't a good example of popular fiction that dealt with the flu. But I went to Worldcat to see if they had anything listed--out of 1590 works published during the years 1917-1925, not one of them was indexed as fiction! (Which doesn't mean there weren't any, it just means WorldCat doesn't show such a work in a library holding, but still...).

Frederick Lewis Allen mentions the flu in passing in Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s, just as a setup to his main discussion. I don't have the volume of Mark Sullivan's Our Time that covers that period. I'm going to see if I can find contemporary histories to see how they covered it. Art forms are one thing, but if histories didn't cover it, that's just plain weird.
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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by greta de groat » Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:23 pm

What was your search query in Worldcat? Was it influenza as a subject qualified by date ranges of publication qualified by fiction? Because until recently it was rare for was rare for works of fiction to be given subject headings so a subject based search would be unlikely to retrieve much. Or even a keyword search (I just tried that myself with similar results )

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by Frederica » Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:33 pm

greta de groat wrote:What was your search query in Worldcat? Was it influenza as a subject qualified by date ranges of publication qualified by fiction? Because until recently it was rare for was rare for works of fiction to be given subject headings so a subject based search would be unlikely to retrieve much. Or even a keyword search (I just tried that myself with similar results )

Greta
Influenza as a subject, qualified by publication years 1917-1925, which brought up the list of 1590 entries. There is a drop down menu which further qualified by fiction, nonfiction, dissertation, etc. When I chose fiction, I got the big goose egg. Which isn't exactly exhaustive, but I couldn't think of another way to narrow down that 1590 hits, and I didn't have time to figure out another query. You'd undoubtedly get better results than I would.

I just looked at the index for A Million and One Nights--nada, zip, buptkes, no sale, influenza is not on the menu.

In talking about art, we are being a tad Eurocentric, here. Do we have any idea if anything was published or filmed in China or India? or South America? or Africa?
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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by forgottenvisions » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:34 pm

All of the interviewees were asked about their family religion. Most were Protestants, some Catholic, two were Jewish, one was Greek Orthodox and some were raised with no religious beliefs.

“End of the world” statements typically came from families who were members of Protestant fundamentalist sects e.g., Seventh-day Adventists, Southern Baptists. However, even people whose belief system was secular couldn’t help but think as the death tolls rose “Well if this keeps up, there’ll be nobody left.”

I interviewed these people as an American history project in college but it’s hard to remain objective when the 66-year-old man you’re interviewing, breaks down and weeps because as a nine year old boy he watched is older brother and his mother die from the flu and that was only part of his story, it got worse….

I was truly amazed that he would even talk to me about it. His recollections were very detailed as were many of the other interviewees. But his story was one of the most heartbreaking.

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by greta de groat » Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:07 am

No, I got the same negative result as you, which is what I expected since the Library of Congress cataloging policy has always been to not give subject headings to individual works of fiction. Which is really frustrating if you want fiction that deals with some theme or topic!

But if you do an advanced search for the subject: influenza literature you pull up a few promising titles of books about the topic of flu in literature (rather than any literary works themselves)

Also try subject: epidemics literature


Hmmm, and I notice that the fiction/nonfiction facet doesn't always work, which it should if the cataloging is done properly!

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by Brooksie » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:18 am

Frederica wrote:Influenza as a subject, qualified by publication years 1917-1925, which brought up the list of 1590 entries. There is a drop down menu which further qualified by fiction, nonfiction, dissertation, etc. When I chose fiction, I got the big goose egg.
I stumbled upon a passing reference in fiction just last night, in the section of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night (1934) that covers the protagonist Dick Diver's early career.

To cut a long story short, his correspondence with his future wife is interrupted by his catching the flu. It's a very understated reference; I probably wouldn't have thought anything of it had I not had this topic in mind.

Although the book wasn't published until 1934, Fitzgerald began working on it in 1925. Also, in searching for confirmation I came across this essay, which suggests it was not until the 1930s that fiction authors began to process the crisis of the flu and refer to it in their works: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/literature ... vanec.html.

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by forgottenvisions » Fri Jun 14, 2013 2:56 am

You might try One of Ours by Willa Cather. The main character is a doctor who goes to the front in WWI where he's dealing with the wounded and flu victims. The flu isn't a main plot line but it's there. Also, Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe. Wolfe's brother dies of the flu, it's a more visceral account than Cather's. Katherine Anne Porter's novella is probably the best account if you basing it on people who actually lived through the epidemic.

Since Edward Cullen died of the flu and was resurrected as a beautiful vampire to woo and wed Bella Swan, there's lots more fiction out there. Believe me, in 1975 when I was searching for source material, the only non-fiction book I found on the subject was the London published The Plague of The Spanish Lady by Richard Collier. Thank God for the internet!

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by forgottenvisions » Sat Jun 15, 2013 1:07 am

Dana wrote:Although the Hollywood body count and money losses seem to be the primary intrigue for most people I've always wondered how the industry (and society at large) managed to virtually ignore the trauma and slaughter it caused in the films they made. Yes, I realize that dying a horrible death via flu is not as photogenic as being blown up in a trench but there are VERY few references to the pandemic in the films of the twenties. It's as though it never happened while the war is referred to in damn near every piece of celluloid pumped out after 1918.
I think this tragedy was just too unspeakable (and uncontrollable) to talk about for most people. Nearly everyone lost a friend or a relative. The war "to end all wars" was a done deal but a pandemic could come again.
I think Dana's comments may hold the key. If seems as though most films made after 1919 that were set in the 1918-1919 time period were about the WWI and the front. But why I find it "unreal" is because flu mortality rates were very high at the front, and the films are trying to recreate the realism of trench war fare. There's bombs, and bullets flying everywhere, soldiers dying left and right, but nobody ever dies of the flu at the front! Than it dawned on me... Dana's right that dying from the flu in not as photogenic as being blown up in a trench but it's also not manly heroic either. If a guy takes a bullet through the head, he died for this country, if he dies from the flu, he just died. Real men don't die from the flu, they die glorious gory deaths of unspeakable mutation. Wimps die from the flu. Think about Gone with the Wind when Scarlett gets the letter informing her that her first husband Charles Hamilton has died of the measles. The guy's dead but the audience actually feels a strange contempt for him. What a wimp... if he had to die from the measles he could have done it at home!

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by entredeuxguerres » Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:00 am

forgottenvisions wrote: Think about Gone with the Wind when Scarlett gets the letter informing her that her first husband Charles Hamilton has died of the measles. The guy's dead but the audience actually feels a strange contempt for him. What a wimp... if he had to die from the measles he could have done it at home!
Pretty wimpish, indeed...but less ignoble, at least, than death from dysentery...a far more common war-time killer.

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by drednm » Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:04 am

As has been mentioned several times in this thread, WW I news and death rolls kept the plague off the front pages for a time.
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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by Frederica » Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:47 am

forgottenvisions wrote: I think Dana's comments may hold the key. If seems as though most films made after 1919 that were set in the 1918-1919 time period were about the WWI and the front. But why I find it "unreal" is because flu mortality rates were very high at the front, and the films are trying to recreate the realism of trench war fare. There's bombs, and bullets flying everywhere, soldiers dying left and right, but nobody ever dies of the flu at the front! Than it dawned on me... Dana's right that dying from the flu in not as photogenic as being blown up in a trench but it's also not manly heroic either. If a guy takes a bullet through the head, he died for this country, if he dies from the flu, he just died. Real men don't die from the flu, they die glorious gory deaths of unspeakable mutation. Wimps die from the flu. Think about Gone with the Wind when Scarlett gets the letter informing her that her first husband Charles Hamilton has died of the measles. The guy's dead but the audience actually feels a strange contempt for him. What a wimp... if he had to die from the measles he could have done it at home!
One thing, the war had better writers. There are no Flu Poets, no Wilfred Owens of the flu. There's no All Quiet on the Western Front, or Goodbye to All That, or Seven Pillars of Wisdom, or Testament of Youth. There is no defining cultural event, like Gallipolli. So the war was mythologized from the get-go.

BTW, out of curiosity I talked to another aged auntie last night--the story was the same. She remembers her family talking about the flu but she had no relatives who died from it, none of her relatives even mentioned having it nor does she know of anyone else who did. They were aware of the flu as a discrete event, but it did not affect them personally, so other events were more critical in their lives. But again, this is coming from a very rural area.
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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by Brooksie » Sat Jun 15, 2013 10:57 am

One of the most enlightening books I ever read about being on the home front during WWI was L.M. Montgomery's Rilla of Ingleside (1921). Having been written only two years after the end of the war, it has a great sense of veracity and immediacy. I don't have a copy handy so I can't check if there are any specific references to the flu in it.

In one sense, it would be quite telling if there wasn't, because the book is dedicated to the author's friend, Frederica Campbell Macfarlane, who was a flu victim.

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by cateyedsnake » Sat Jun 15, 2013 7:49 pm

A few years ago I read about a young actress (she was in her mid- to late-teens, maybe sixteen) who apparently died during the epidemic. I have been looking out for her since, but haven't been able to find her. I know the description is really vague, but does it ring any bells for anyone?

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by Brooksie » Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:48 pm

As mentioned in the thread about the Mostly Lost film identification workshop over the weekend, (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=15227&p=111343), one of the films identified was Her Greatest Story (1916). The star of that film, Myrtle Gonzales, was another flu victim.

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The Spanish Influenza's effect on 1918 film going

Unread post by sepiatone » Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:23 pm

Though some decent and interesting films came out in 1918, I would suspect none did as well as they should've being that people stayed home and away from 'Flu' infested theatres. The Flu kicked up tremendously in the summer and latter half of 1918. I remember Horton Foote had a movie made of one of his stories, it was called "1918" and it showed how indiscriminate the Flu took seemingly healthy people . It was a touching film that came out in the 80s or early 90s.

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Re: The Spanish Influenza's effect on 1918 film going

Unread post by Brooksie » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:43 am

You might want to have a look at this thread - viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10271. Mostly about the effects of the flu on the film industry but with a bit on its effect on audiences.

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Re: The Spanish Influenza's effect on 1918 film going

Unread post by sepiatone » Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:05 pm

thanks Brooksie!

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Re: The Spanish Influenza's effect on 1918 film going

Unread post by Marilyn Slater » Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:34 pm

The story of Harold Lockwood is so much the story of the sorrow of the influence effect on Hollywood, the raising of funds for bonds is mixed with the flu...

http://looking-for-mabel.webs.com/haroldlockwood.htm

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by silentfilm » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:03 pm


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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by rogerskarsten » Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:19 pm

Last night I had the chance to attend a screening of DR. BESSEL'S VERWANDLUNG (1927, dir. Richard Oswald), and immediately thought about this Nitrateville discussion as the plot suddenly incorporated the Spanish flu epidemic. The story is set during The War and deals with a German soldier (played by Hans Stüwe) who, after being traumatized first by the realization that his wife is having an affair with another man and then by the horrors of the trenches, deserts the army and assumes the identity of a deceased French soldier. Living behind enemy lines, he constantly faces the threat of being discovered and almost certainly executed as a spy, but eventually he meets and falls in love with the dead man's fiancée (played by Agnes Petersen) and finds happiness... until the flu arrives.

The appearance of the flu (which is referred to as the "Kriegsseuche") is depicted as an angel of death walking through the city streets, with crosses appearing on the house doors as it passes by. The illness strikes the fiancée, who is shown perfectly coiffed and lying in a sumptuous bed. The doctors say there is no hope for her survival. There is a lot of soft-lens photography as she quietly expires. Even so, the scenes are quite effectively played by the actors, and Stüwe suffers well on camera.

There is so much more to this interesting film that I could comment on elsewhere, but I wanted to contribute this here as an example of the Spanish influenza appearing in a film dealing with The War.

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Wed Jul 23, 2014 1:31 pm

Frederica wrote: BTW, out of curiosity I talked to another aged auntie last night--the story was the same. She remembers her family talking about the flu but she had no relatives who died from it, none of her relatives even mentioned having it nor does she know of anyone else who did. They were aware of the flu as a discrete event, but it did not affect them personally, so other events were more critical in their lives. But again, this is coming from a very rural area.
So long as we're reviving old threads, my mother's mother's mother died of the flu, when my grandmother was little more than a toddler. So my grandmother's grandmother, essentially, raised her and, consequently, my mother grew up knowing very little extended family. Major culture shock for her when she married into a large irish clan.

And no, my great grandmother was not in the business.

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by sepiatone » Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:45 pm

Harlett O'Dowd wrote:
Frederica wrote: BTW, out of curiosity I talked to another aged auntie last night--the story was the same. She remembers her family talking about the flu but she had no relatives who died from it, none of her relatives even mentioned having it nor does she know of anyone else who did. They were aware of the flu as a discrete event, but it did not affect them personally, so other events were more critical in their lives. But again, this is coming from a very rural area.
So long as we're reviving old threads, my mother's mother's mother died of the flu, when my grandmother was little more than a toddler. So my grandmother's grandmother, essentially, raised her and, consequently, my mother grew up knowing very little extended family. Major culture shock for her when she married into a large irish clan.

And no, my great grandmother was not in the business.
Harlett, did you ever try to make a search of your gr-grandmother on the findagrave? lots of memorials to people who have died in WW1 and from the Sp.Flu young and old.
http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin//fg.cgi" target="_blank

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by silentfilm » Sun Nov 09, 2014 10:17 pm


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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by Frederica » Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:46 pm

British Pathe Newsreels produces interesting listicles using their footage, like Buzzfeed but less "What type of cheese are you." They recently produced one titled The Top 5 Worst Epidemics of the 20th Century, which includes the 1918-1919 Flu Epidemic at #2.
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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by All Darc » Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:16 pm

thid influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu as was called) was rquite esponsible for World War II. USA president Wislon got sick and the pós WWI negociations was ruined without hin, leading to unjustice for Germany, Italy and Japan. This oppened hurt feelings that leaded to extremismo in these countries.
Keep thinking...

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Re: 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic Effects

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:51 pm

greta de groat wrote:What was your search query in Worldcat? Was it influenza as a subject qualified by date ranges of publication qualified by fiction? Because until recently it was rare for was rare for works of fiction to be given subject headings so a subject based search would be unlikely to retrieve much. Or even a keyword search (I just tried that myself with similar results )

Greta

I ran "Influenza" through the Google Ngram Viewer and got the following chart:

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?c ... za%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank

Notice the spike in 1918 and 1919.

"Spanish Influenza" shows an even more dramatic graph for the period.
https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?c ... za%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank

Clearly this is what people were writing about.

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