Research Symposium, April 15, 2020
Hosted by History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, NIH
Featuring research by Virginia Tech undergraduates

Locations: National Library of Medicine and Virginia Tech, Newman Library Athenaeum

The symposium features research by Virginia Tech undergraduates, for a course-based project to understand the impact of the 1918 influenza epidemic on the United States by examining statistics compiled by federal, state, and municipal authorities, reporting in daily newspapers, and epidemiological research in the aftermath of the epidemic. Research presentations will be posted online, along with publicly accessible data, for use by scholars and the public seeking more information about this historical event and its long-term significance.

1. Introduction and Overview

Challenges of counting deaths in 1918 Spanish Influenza

Relevance to contemporary understanding of influenza: seasonal and outbreaks

2. Mortality Statistics in the United States

US Census mortality statistics & city / state health reports

Change over time and comparisons of cities and states

3. Newspaper reporting on mortality during the epidemic, Oct – Dec 1918

Library of Congress Chronicling America: case studies from across the United States

Data narratives as historical method

4. Epidemiological studies from Public Health Reports, 1918-1921

Summaries and data tables of articles, available from Pub Med Central,

Evaluating epidemiological analysis ca 1918-1921: knowns and unknowns

5. Roundtable: Implications for current epidemiological analysis & public understanding

The symposium is hosted by the History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine—as part of their ongoing partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Digital Humanities to collaborate on research, education, and career initiatives—and Virginia Tech’s Department of History, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and University Libraries. More information about the symposium is available from the websites linked here, here, or here: