The Influenza Epidemic of 1918

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? 


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