The history of human civilizations is rife with disastrous epidemics and plagues, a fact that is sometimes lost on modern-day pundits and commentators. Fortunately, the National Archives hasn’t forgotten about one of history’s more recent tragedies, namely the influenza epidemic of 1918. They recently created this engaging and fascinating collection of documents and photographs that offer a first-hand perspective on this epidemic. All told, the collection offered here contains several dozen primary source materials, including a directive from the Navy in order to educate sailors about the health risks of the disease and a photograph of Seattle police officers clad in protective face masks. One special feature of the site is that visitors can also order copies of the documents, if they are so inclined. Overall, this is a well-designed site that offers a glimpse of the American perspective on this rampant epidemic which eventually killed 20 million people across the world.
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