STUMP » Articles » Memory Monday: Spanish Flu Still Relevant and Second Week of April 1918 » 16 April 2018, 18:04

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Memory Monday: Spanish Flu Still Relevant and Second Week of April 1918  


16 April 2018, 18:04

I had a piece in Governing magazine (online) published last week:

Lessons From a Public Health Catastrophe

A hundred years ago, the Spanish flu killed tens of millions. As governments prepare for the next pandemic, there’s much to learn from the responses to that outbreak.
APRIL 12, 2018

Whenever I forget exactly when the Spanish flu pandemic began sweeping the world, I check my historical mortality tables. The U.S. cohort table for 1900 shows that people born in that year saw a heightened mortality in their 18th year. Mortality more than doubled in a single year, for both males and females.

Those tables are just part of the documentation of a larger story: The influenza pandemic that began in January 1918 was the worst natural disaster in modern history. While death-toll estimates vary greatly, it is believed to have killed somewhere between 50 million and 100 million people around the world. In terms of lives lost, it may have been exceeded only by the bubonic plague of the 1300s — the Black Death.

Go to the link to read the whole thing.


Before I begin, I noticed that this issue, scanned into the archive, was in extremely poor condition. Lots of rips, illegible type, etc.

I don’t know if this is a result of WWI: perhaps lower-quality paper available to newspapers then. Or it could just have been an accident of history – a clumsy librarian ripping the paper before they scanned it.

In any case, there really does seem to be a theme each week when I look at the 8-page newspaper.

The second week of April 1918 of the Brewster Standard seems to focus on farmers, and their importance for the war effort…..and also BUY MORE BONDS. Let me pull out the farmer-related stuff first.

First, an ad:

There’s nothing particularly special about the ad — but it does point out that there’s a large farming contingent in the area. There still is, actually (though what’s being grown/sold is a bit different than what was being grown years ago, partly because of cheap shipping now.)

Here’s some boosterism for farmers:

And here… well, I’ll just post the first part and link the two other parts.

Part 2 and Part 3 are here.

I’m pretty sure this is the Herbert Quick who wrote that piece.

But if you read part 3… you’ll see that this is yet another sell job for war bonds, specifically targeted to farmers.


Propaganda was not subtle. You think Trump tweeting disparaging nicknames for Kim Jong Il is crass?

Get a load of this:


See, my neighborhood in New York was started by a German family that had come over in the mid-19th century, particularly after the failed revolutions of 1848. There were lots of people of German descent in the area (and mind you, some anti-German stuff from earlier years in the paper had to do with their nasty habit of drinkng beer… even the WOMEN!)

You can read more about the type of anti-German propaganda was out there. The piece that ran in the paper above was probably not official propaganda, but there was plenty official nasty stuff.


Speaking of unsubtle:

Again, as noted earlier, this paper was in poor condition when scanned.

Here is a different tack:

I really don’t want to post all the clips, because it does get tedious after a while. I wonder if the readers got tired of 5+ pieces on buying war stamps and Liberty Bonds in each issue.

I will just do one more from this issue:

I like that approach — gives you an idea of what $50 would buy for troops. According to this inflation calculator, that’s about $830 today. Those are some serious purchases to buy a $50 bond back then.


Mmmm, war bread.

Looking up a few recipes, one gets quite a variety of results, including bread based mostly on corn, rye, or all sorts of things. Amusing to me, white bread is considered the less nutritious item now, compared to multigrain bread, which is often considered more frou-frou than white bread now.