04/28/09 247 W, 1 I - + 17 - 17 The Pandemic of 1918

On Sunday, November 26, 2006, the News & Observer published a retrospective of the Spanish Flu pandemic that killed at least 13,703 North Carolinians in 1918 and 1919. Nationally, the death toll is estimated at 675,000, with a worldwide estimate between 50 and 100 million. The feature story by writer Jim Nesbitt, with contributions by researchers David Raynor and Denise Jones, is full of fascinating details. In October 1918, a canvass of 3,561 Raleigh homes revealed 1,380 flu cases. The city's death toll was 100 by October 24. Coverage of the pandemic, they found, was a bit buried in the state's newspapers. Front pages were dominated by news of World War I; flu details were found in funeral notices on society pages, or inside stories that catered to the rosy optimism of public officials. Read the feature story.

More recently, the Spanish flu's effects in Raleigh were chronicled in Wake: Capital County of North Carolina, Volume II, by historians K. Todd Johnson and Elizabeth Reid Murray, and recently published. They write that Wake County had the highest death rate in the state in October 1918, with at least 293 deaths that month. Of that total, 102 were in Raleigh, excluding Camp Polk and State College. They also note that by October 1 of that year, 238 people had died in the Capitol City. Their sources include both period newspaper articles, and an apparent Raleigh Times retrospective dated January 27, 1969. Prior blog posting about this book. And here's the easily-found Wikipedia entry on the pandemic, which includes a couple historical photos.

Wikipedia Photo

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