Research Symposium, April 29, 2020, (archived recording: link)
Hosted by History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, NIH
Featuring research by Virginia Tech undergraduates
Media reports: VT News April 28, 2020; NIH Recorder June 20, 2020; VT News April 8, 2020; VT News June 16, 2020

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. Questions during the session may be tweeted using #nlmtalk.

Introduction and Overview

Significance of using historical records to understand 1918 Spanish Influenza

Relevance to contemporary understanding of epidemics

1. Reporting: using newspapers to track the 1918 influenza epidemic

Project Team: Ian Gardner, Louisa Glazunova, Emily Swanson, Fiona Tran

2. Recording: evaluating social distancing measures in fall 1918

Project Team: Jacob Beachley, Yash Joshi, Matthew Mirabella, Connor O’Hanlon

3. Remembering: community recovery from the 1918 influenza epidemic

Project Team: Miguel Alvarez, Katie Kromer, Alessia Scotto, Stephanie Valencic


Nancy Bristow, Professor, University of Puget Sound, author, American Pandemic
David Morens, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH
Deborah Thomas, Chronicling America, Library of Congress
Jeffrey Reznick, Chief, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine

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.

The photograph was taken on October 16, 1918, and is available as a print in the binder of Spanish Flu Epidemic 1918 photographs in the Prints Research Room, National Archives II, College Park, MD. The caption reads: MASKS FOR PROTECTION AGAINST INFLUENZA: Girl clerks in New York at work with masks carefully tied about their faces.