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Research Plan 1

Research Plan 1

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Published by Andrew Knox

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Published by: Andrew Knox on Mar 24, 2011
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02/04/2013

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Andrew KnoxHIST&137 – Research Plan #1January 26
th
, 2011
Part I: Introduction (619 words)
I chose the 1918 Influenza Pandemic as my topic because I had never learned much about it ingrade school, which, looking back, seems extremely odd. The Flu Pandemic was one of the worstdisasters to ever strike America, or the entire world for that matter. Approximately 675,000 Americansdied, and about 28% of the population was infected at one time or another. Worldwide, mortality wasso high and corpses were destroyed so quickly that estimates for a death total range from 20 to 100million. Since the virus killed by instigating an immune system over-response, people between ages 20and 40 suffered greater mortality rates than young children and the elderly, who naturally tend to haveweaker immune systems.
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 This fact, coupled with the massive slaughter of young men in World War I,led to the phenomenon of the Lost Generation, an age cohort that had become disillusioned with thepath America had gone down in their lifetimes.
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Like the Bubonic Plague that ravaged Medieval Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and killedindiscriminately from peasant to king, the 1918 Pandemic's extreme lethality meant that no one insociety was safe from the disease. Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ethiopian Emperor HaileSelassie and Walt Disney all caught the flu at some point. Due to popular nicknames like “SpanishFlu” and “La Grippe,” it is generally accepted that the flu came to America with soldiers returningvictorious from the wretched battlefields of World War I Europe. While the pandemic officially lastedfrom June 1917 to December 1920, in the year 1918, the virus swept over the planet in three waves.The first wave hit America in March 1918. The far deadlier second wave struck from September toNovember, survivors of the first wave were immune, but the rest faced a far more lethal strain. The
1 Billings.2 Tripodi.
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Andrew KnoxHIST&137 – Research Plan #1January 26
th
, 2011third wave was much more subdued, passing meekly through the winter and into early 1919.
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 The third wave was less deadly than the others because, by this point, the public healthdepartments of many developed nations were finally prepared to contain and quarantine further outbreaks. These prevention measures were implemented with exceptional speed because the war hadmade many governments of Europe and North America heavily nationalist, and, consequently, moreauthoritarian. The prevailing mindset of wartime society “led to the relatively calm response of thepublic and application of scientific ideas. People allowed for strict measures and loss of freedom duringthe war as they submitted to the needs of the nation ahead of their personal needs. They had acceptedthe limitations placed with rationing and drafting. The responses of the public health officials reflectedthe new allegiance to science and the wartime society.”
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Since society was largely passive to quick suspension of freedom due to the war, the government was able to implement containment measuresthat may have saved millions of lives. Thank goodness for war?Since the pandemic took place during the chaotic couple years following World War I, lasted sobriefly and moved through communities in as little as three weeks, the survivors tried to forget thehorrors of the era and start anew. In the public consciousness, the flu dead were an extension of thewar dead. Seventy-five years of national amnesia passed and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic faded frommemory. Only when new contagious viruses like SARS, Bird Flu and Swine Flu, reared their headswith the threat of another global megadeath did news articles reminding the fearful populace of the“forgotten pandemic.” Public consciousness of the outbreak has risen in recent years, but still falls far behind the reverence it deserves: America's first and worst national disaster ever.
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3 Morens.4 Billings.5 United States.
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Andrew KnoxHIST&137 – Research Plan #1January 26
th
, 2011
Part II: Primary Sources (233 words)
The two physical archive institutions I found with possible information caches related to the flupandemic are the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C., and at variousbranches of the National Archives and Records Administration around the country. The NationalArchive's Flu Pandemic collection is very spread out, so I have provided the contact information for theSeattle office and the Main Archives in Washington, D.C..National Museum of Health andMedicine6900 Georgia Avenue, NW,Building 54Washington D.C. 20307202-782-2200nmhminfo@afip.osd.mil Seattle National Archives Office6125 Sand Point Way NESeattle, Washington 98115-7999206-336-5115seattle.archives@nara.gov National Archives and RecordsAdministration700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NWWashington, D.C. 20408-0001202-357-5000http://www.archives.gov/ I chose the National Museum of Health and Medicine because of the great variety of picturesand documents in their online exhibit.
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 I figured that a military museum focused on health andmedicine will likely have important primary sources about soldiers with the disease. There are photosof the emergency hospitals, army regimented treatments and even the shriveled lungs of autopsied fluvictims. I chose the National Archives because my research pointed to the administration being theprimary authority on cataloging this history that nobody wants to remember.
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The National Archivesalso has a convenient location near my house that I have confirmed has primary sources from the era onits premises.
6 NMHM.7 NARA.
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