The Influenza Epidemic of 1918

January 18, 2008

While I was at home recuperating from an illness last week, my thoughts turned to how the College dealt with the influenze epidemic of 1918.   The influenza epidemic ascerted itself on Smith in 3 waves.  During the first wave of the crisis in October,  two students died from the pneumonia.  52 students left the College to convalesce at home.  Beds were filled completely at Sunnyside and in the Infirmary.  Because the Cooley-Dickinson Hospital was also filled to the maximum, another building at 57 Kensington Ave was opened to receive the ill.  Twenty-nine students volunteered to work as nurses aides at Cooley-Dickinson Hospital, as did a number of faculty members.  A quarantine of the remaining students took place.  Thanksgiving Recess was postponed.  During the 2nd wave of the epidemic, Baldwin House, 63 Belmont Ave, and 7 Paradise Road were used to house mild cases, and convalescing students.  Healthy students were sent to farms to work the fields in order to keep healthy.  The quarantine remained in effect until the end of January 1919.

 The College Archives has correspondence, photographs, and other materials created by undergraduate students as they endured the quarantine.  According to the Physician’s Annual Report and articles in the student newspaper, the Smith College Weekly the students made the Library their 2nd home. 

Can you image how this would take effect today? 


Views of Smith College

January 18, 2008

Postcards are a source of visual information about any landscape. Of course, as with any piece of material, you have to take a critical look at it. Does the image accurately reflect the building layouts? What role does perspective take, particularly within the context of the postcard? Birds-eye views of campuses were popular in the 1910s–but how accurate were they? The College Archives has a collection of postcards that represent the campus over a period of time.  Images from our collection can be found at:  Simply click on the name of a building or campus location on the drop-down screen to see selected images.

Do you believe these images accurately represent the campus?