News & Politics

These Historic Photos Show Life in DC During the 1918 Flu Pandemic

Red Cross workers aid troops and travelers. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

Washingtonian is keeping you up to date on the coronavirus around DC.

Covid-19 isn’t the first pandemic Washingtonians have faced. The 1918 influenza pandemic closed schools and emptied public spaces. These photographs and newspaper clips show how a public health crisis can change our way of life.

A demonstration at the Red Cross Emergency Ambulance Station in DC. The presentation was meant to increase awareness about the severity of the flu. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
An October 1918 edition of the Washington Evening Star discusses staggered work hours intended to flatten the curve. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
A pharmacist at People’s Drug Store, No. 5, on H Street checks prescriptions. Most drug store staff continued to work throughout the pandemic, despite the personal risk. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
An advertisement for snake oil, a common treatment for the flu. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
An advertisement for Horlick’s Malted Milk, also used to treat flu symptoms. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
A newspaper advertisement touting Father John’s Medicine as “pure, wholesome food” to treat a cold. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Nurses at Walter Reed Hospital Flu Ward care for patients separated by bed sheets. Due to the high volume of patients, beds were moved to the porch. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Local schools closed to control the flu outbreak. The Washington Evening Star reported the closures. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Staggered work hours for federal workers, published in the Washington Evening Star. The schedule was designed to prevent large gatherings. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Like many other entertainment venues, Moore’s Garden Theater, at the corner of 9th Street NW and E Street NW, closed its doors during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
The municipal fish market remained open to provide fresh fish and groceries to citizens. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
A map of DC during the Spanish Influenza, 1917. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

 

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