Cold, Gray Days in Evanston: A World War and a Pandemic, 1918

by Jenny Thompson, PhD, Director of Education


Chicago Tribune, April 4, 1918

In April 1918, there were a lot of things to fear. The First World War, now in its fourth devastating year, was reaching a critical level for the United States. In the year since the country declared war against Germany in April 1917, the U.S. armed forces had grown to over four million, with nearly three million deployed overseas; Across the United States people faced economic uncertainty as they were challenged by the upheavals of a country devoted to a global war.

To top it off, an epidemic was announced: whooping cough was on the loose in Evanston.

Looking back at this era, we have the benefit of hindsight.

As we know, influenza, not whooping cough, would reach pandemic proportions beginning in 1918. Before it ran its course, finally losing strength in 1920, influenza would claim an estimated 675,000 lives in the United States and 20-50 million lives worldwide. (Numbers are from U.S. Centers for Disease Control.)

Those were truly dark days. In 2020, as we face another pandemic, looking back at this time might help us see that cold, gray days have come before. They have also passed, eventually becoming history. And now, knowing that history seems somehow urgent.

Unearthing a detailed portrait of Evanston’s experience of the 1918 pandemic, however, is not so easy. In the immediate aftermath of that terrible time, forgetting was the order of the day. But more on that at the end of the story.


“Hello” from Camp Funston, Kansas, (an) epicenter of the 1918 pandemic, The Monet Times, March 8, 1918

The 1918 pandemic was born of and bred by war.

According to historian John M. Barry, when a particularly virulent strain of influenza broke out on the American landscape in early 1918, influenza “was neither a reportable disease, nor a disease that any state or federal public health agency tracked.”[1] Despite the fact that an American military training camp, Camp Funston in Kansas, would later be identified as an epicenter of the 1918 pandemic, that knowledge went unrecorded at the time. So, quietly, the virus began to spread, breaking out in various locations in the United States.

In was not until May 1918 that the American press, its attention fixed on events overseas, began to report on an outbreak of influenza in Spain (hence the moniker “Spanish Flu”[2]). Citing the “mysteriousness” of the illness (a “plague”), the press noted that it seemed to ravage large percentages of groups quickly. Throughout the spring and early summer, U.S. newspapers tracked influenza as it spread through European countries, including Germany, England, Ireland, France, and Norway.

At the time, many countries, including the United States, were operating under strict wartime censorship policies. As a result, the flow of information about the outbreak was obstructed, leading to the spreading of rumors and falsehoods. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, for example, reported that the epidemic was caused by hunger among weakened German troops, while the New York Times reported that the disease was spreading in Europe because so many there had to “live on bad bread.”[3] But perhaps the most egregious error reported at the time was that the pandemic was entirely foreign to the United States.   

As early as 1919, investigators would recognize “the likelihood that influenza was prevalent in [the United States] in a mild and unrecognized form in the spring of [1918],” pointing to “numerous local outbreaks of acute respiratory diseases” and “a very great number of cases [that] were not reported.”[4]

As we know now, the 1918 strain of influenza that led to the pandemic was present in the United States as early as January 1918. And later, experts would identify an epicenter of the pandemic in the American heartland, with the first recorded cases found in the great state of Kansas.

The Familiar Flu, January 6, 1918

Influenza 1918: variously called the flu, the grippe, “Flanders’ Fever,” and the “Spanish flu.” Sometimes the word was spelled with an apostrophe:  ’flu.

The First Wave

In March 1918, Albert Gitchell, a cook at Camp Funston, located at Fort Riley, Kansas, was recorded as one of the pandemic’s earliest victims.[5] Cases of a severe form of influenza had been observed in the surrounding county in Kansas as early as January 1918. Soon, more than one hundred soldiers at the camp fell ill with influenza. Within a week, the number of flu cases at Camp Funston reached 2,480.[6]  Although unrecorded at the time, the spring of 1918 constituted the pandemic’s “first wave” in the United States.

At the time, influenza was a familiar disease. For centuries it had been present, often in epidemic proportions. The 1918 strain (H1N1) was both highly lethal and highly contagious. It spread rapidly through American military camps. It then embarked overseas, traveling on the ships that carried American troops to the war.

By late Spring 1918, the flu reached Europe and began to spread around the globe.



The war and the pandemic were intricately linked. In late June 1918, as the outbreak was already making its way through Europe, the U.S War Department emphatically (and erroneously) declared that there was “No Influenza on Our Army.”[7] But in fact, the pandemic was bred within the U.S. military. The war was the means by which the virus spread so quickly. It was a perfect storm: millions of people, housed in close quarters in camps and cantonments, often without access to proper sanitation, and all of them on the move, crowded on ships, on trains, in ports, and moving around the globe -it was the perfect setting for the spread of a highly contagious virus. 

Human Density: Camp Grant (above) near Rockford, Illinois, was built in 1917, one of many military camps constructed to house the burgeoning U.S. Armed Forces during World War I. (Waterloo Photo Co. November 12, 1917) Camp Funston, (below) 14th National Army Cantonment, Fort Riley, Kansas, was an epicenter of the pandemic. The first troops arrived at the camp in September 1917; eventually tens of thousands of drafted men came to the camp, housed in conditions that the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office would later (1928) identify as faulty, including the camp’s substandard kitchen facilities and its poor ventilation, waste management, and sewerage systems.[8] (Photographs, Library of Congress.)


In the war’s final year, at the height of the pandemic, an estimated 20-40% of all U.S. Army and Navy personnel became sick with influenza and its attendant condition pneumonia. Nearly 30,000 members of the U.S. Army died in the United States before shipping out overseas.[9] Influenza and pneumonia would ultimately kill more American soldiers and sailors than combat during World War I. [10]  


The Second Wave

“Spanish Influenza Here,” New York Times, August 4, 1918.

As the pandemic spread during the summer of 1918, a narrative surrounding the outbreak took shape according to the prevailing war sentiment: the American public had to guard against this “foreign” enemy (influenza) from invading the United States and “attacking” Americans. At the time, the flu was not primarily described as a danger to personal health, but as a threat to the nation’s successful prosecution of the war. 

1918 Logic: the flu, which can lead to death, impedes the war, which can lead to death. (Photograph, Library of Congress.)

The flu was framed in the American press and in government propaganda as being a “weapon” of war itself. It was an enemy that “attacked” and “ravaged” troops. First, it had been loose among German soldiers in the trenches (a fact the American press celebrated – “Spanish influenza so far [has] been great aid to allies by its attack of Huns,” proclaimed one reporter.[11] (Why even the Kaiser had fallen ill of the disease!)[12] Then it “attacked” the Swiss and others, before beginning its transatlantic journey to return to the United States in the late summer of 1918. (Please note: this was a false narrative.)


“Spanish Grippe” and its invasion of Switzerland, July 1918


It was not until the late summer of 1918 that Americans would become keenly aware of the pandemic’s threat. In August 1918, as historian Nancy K. Bristow described, “Influenza returned to American shores in its second wave.” Carried back from Europe aboard ships now docking in American harbors, the illness would soon be identified by doctors confronting scores of sick passengers. “It arrived relatively quietly among two or three sailors at Commonwealth Pier in Boston,” Bristow wrote, “but it proved highly contagious. Within a few days the numbers of sick skyrocketed, and by the end of the second week influenza had infected 2,000 sailors in the First Naval District. The first civilian to be hospitalized in this new wave entered Boston City Hospital on September 3. Days later influenza hit Camp Devens, north of Boston.”[13]

As Eastern cities began reporting rising cases and deaths, the press in Chicago and surrounding areas began to acknowledge that the threat of an influenza epidemic* might be real. However, just as the federal government controlled information related to the war, so too was the information controlled related to influenza. While more ships docked on American shores with ill passengers, authorities were “not alarmed,” as the New York Times reported. Even as they sought to investigate the origin of the illnesses, there was, they urged, “no fear of an epidemic.”[14]

*In 1918, the word “epidemic” was widely used, rather than the currently favored term, pandemic. Pandemic describes an outbreak spanning regions, countries, or continents, while epidemic refers to a more localized outbreak. The fact that in 2020-2021 “pandemic” is used to accurately describe the outbreak of COVID-19 underscores how much more interconnected the world is today. A “global” phenomenon is something people today are much more familiar with. In 1918, that concept was unfamiliar to most.

Reports were now flooding in from around the United States of epidemics breaking out in various cities and locations. By September 26, the disease had been identified in twenty-six states, including Illinois, and had already “reached the Pacific Coast.”[15] The epidemic was now a national emergency.


 Chicago Tribune, September 19,  1918

Illinois Timeline: Fall 1918

September 7: The state’s first case of influenza is first recorded at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Great Lakes, Illinois, with a total of 44,000 resident personnel. In one week, the number of cases there soars to 5,000. By October 11, a total of 924 deaths had been recorded at the facility. At the time, the outbreak was not reported in terms that described its true size.16]

September 9: Winnetka, Illinois, records its first case.

September 16:  Seven members of Northwestern University’s Student Army Training Corps fall ill with influenza.

September 16: Chicago Health Commissioner John Dill Robertson orders all cases of influenza to be reported by health professionals. It is now “a reportable disease.”

September 23: The first case of influenza in Evanston beyond Northwestern University is recorded.

October 2: the Illinois Department of Public Health declares influenza to be an epidemic in the state.

The Times, September 20, 1918

Wartime Evanston

It was late September 1918, when the influenza pandemic would hit Evanston, population 29,000.

Just weeks earlier, city residents learned that that influenza had broken out at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, roughly twenty-five miles north of Evanston. A complete quarantine there went into effect. Chicago and the entire North Shore braced for what might happen next. 

Evanston was already on edge; the World War had turned the city’s daily routine on its head. By the beginning of fall of 1918, 2,500 male residents had entered the armed forces and departed for training and overseas service. (Ultimately, 3,000 male residents would be counted among the armed forces.) By that time, as many as 11,000 Evanston women had registered with the Evanston War Council as volunteers in war-related activities; and some had also left the city, serving as nurses and war workers throughout the country and overseas. The absence of so many residents left a vast hole in Evanston; fear for these loved ones was constant.


Chicago Tribune, September 20, 1918.

The city had given itself over to the war effort; the war had become a part of daily life.


“Our Boys Are Watching Us,” Evanston News- Index. While so many Americans were serving overseas, those on the home front were reminded of the continued need for their sacrifice and service.

War Footing

Once the U.S. entered the World War, a group of Evanston’s  leaders of industry and government took it upon themselves to orchestrate the city’s wartime activities. They formed an official body, the Evanston War Council, to oversee various war-related events, from patriotic parades to the hosting of liberty loan (or bond) drives. The council, which was headquartered in the city hall, also assisted with the city’s selective service registration procedures.

In the meantime, the Federal government urged all American men to offer themselves up (volunteer/enlist) for military service; and men between the ages of 21 to 30 (later expanded to 18 to 45) were ordered to register for the country’s first draft since the American Civil War ( “selective service,” as it was renamed). The punishment for failing to register was severe. Eventually, 2.8 million American men would be drafted into the U.S. armed forces during the war.


“Stop! Read and Obey,” U. S. Selective service registration poster, 1917.


The American press, meanwhile, had been largely muzzled by the government. For the first time in its history, the U.S. government imposed strict and complicated censorship of the press: certain types of information and images were entirely restricted and all members of the press reporting in war zones had be to accredited by the government.

Citizens, too, were restricted in what they could do, say, or publish in relation to the war. The 1917 Espionage Act made it a crime, among other things, to “willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States.” The 1918 Sedition Act vastly expanded what interference meant and increased punishment to “not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 20 years.”

In order to encourage compliance with the dictates imposed by a country at war, the government launched its vast network of morale-boosting and patriotism-inducing exercises, from films and parades, and produced a flood of pro-war materials, from to posters and music. The idea that the war was being fought for lofty aims (to make the world safe for democracy) was advanced everywhere. (Read more about the work of the United States’ propaganda bureau, the Committee on Public Information.)

Despite any questioning of the war’s necessity and its goals or the grief so many felt at saying good bye to loved ones as they “shipped out,” the climate in the U.S. during the war was one of “100%” patriotism. And all Americans were encouraged, cajoled, and instructed to keep a stiff upper lip. The popular wartime song, “Are We Downhearted? No!” reflects the generalized call to be cheerful even as the war raged on.

                                   “Morale Hastens Victory,” Poster, 1918.


Courage in the face of danger.

The word, “morale,” is perhaps the best catch phrase of the war’s emotional landscape. It derives from the French word, “moral,” meaning of “good conduct.” The added “e”  transformed it into a mental condition as regards confidence, courage, hope, etc.” (especially “as regards soldiers, sailors, or any body of persons engaged in a hazardous enterprise.”)

Throughout the war, Americans were implored to be courageous.  They were also ordered to behave and to curtail their behavior: conserve coal, gasoline, and sugar. In Evanston, stores were not allowed to use electric lights on Tuesdays. No one was allowed to drive an automobile on Sundays. A federal order limiting the serving of meat, bread, butter, sugar, and cream in restaurants was in effect.[17] Chocolate and candy were rationed. All these regulations were designed to feed the country’s resources to the war effort, above all else.



“Be Patriotic,” U.S. Food Administration, 1918


In Evanston, people lined up in front of Lord’s Department Store in the city’s central Fountain Square area carrying teapots, dinner spoons, and jewelry; they were there for the periodic gathering known as the “melting pot,” when donated metals were melted down for the war effort.


The site of the “Melting Pot,” Lord’s Department Store, Fountain Square, Nd.


Many people in Evanston did their “bit” for the war effort. The Woman’s Club of Evanston operated “The Home Port ‘Blighty’ ” (Blighty is British military slang for home), which served as a social hub for service members. Dinners and dances were held in the club’s headquarters on Chicago Ave and Church Street. Meanwhile, on Davis and Oak streets, the Evanston Allied War Shop operated, where volunteers made garments for refugee children in Europe.


Advertisement for “The Home Port ‘Blighty,’ ” Evanston News-Index

By the fall of 1918, the American military faced its heaviest fighting. Casualty lists appeared daily, accompanied by photographs of young men who had died far away from home. The wartime refrain continued: keep a stiff upper lip and work toward supporting “our boys.”



Evanston News-Index, October 4, 1918. The death of Evanston resident, Oliver Cunningham, was one of many announced in local newspapers. Read more about Oliver B. Cunningham.


Within the larger setting of the loss and grief, the announcement of a potential influenza “invasion” might well have caused some degree of panic. But, at the time the pandemic hit in the fall of 1918, two constraints were operating that limited the free-flow of news and information: press censorship and the wartime campaign to maintain morale. Despite the fact that the looming epidemic was serious and likely to exact a heavy toll, government officials and members of the press were intent on maintaining calm.

In many ways, coverage of the pandemic mirrored that of coverage of the war: neither, people were told, was as bad as they might fear. Indeed, it was only in the war’s aftermath that the sensation of disillusionment would sink in – that officials had lied about the true nature of the war’s destruction, as well as the pandemic’s broad and horrifying reach.

“We are a very unfortunate generation, whose lot has been to see the moment of our passage through life coincide with the arrival of great and terrifying events, the echo of which will resound through all our lives.”

Paul Valery, 1919


Throughout the fall of 1918, officials downplayed the threat of the pandemic. Chicago Tribune, October 31, 1918


Evanston Safe From Flu

Newspapers and health officials repeated the same refrain: the epidemic is “under control.”[18]

By mid-September 1918, the epidemic was in full swing. Statements from health officials, however, downplayed the true extent of the danger. On September 17, Evanston’s Health Commissioner, Dr. C.T. Roome said he was not worried about the epidemic reaching Evanston. He admitted however that he was “anxious” to some degree. The disease was “highly contagious,” he observed, and “spread chiefly through personal contact.” Any “interchanges of visitors between Great Lakes and Evanston may cause the disease to break out in this city,” he warned.[19]

Roome pledged to guard Evanston from an influenza attack.  


Dr. C.T. [Clarence Tyley] Roome (1879-1961) (left) inoculating Northwestern students against smallpox in 1925. In 1913, Roome was appointed Evanston health commissioner. He also served as assistant professor of hygiene and student health director for the College of Liberal Arts at Northwestern University from 1916 –1927. Roome lived with his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, at 904 Judson Street. He graduated from Oberlin College and earned his MD from Columbia University in 1908. Before coming to Evanston, he was a doctor at Presbyterian Hospital in NYC. He later moved to Santa Barbara where he died at age 84.

Other nearby public health officials, such as Chicago Health Commissioner, John Dill Robertson, conveyed a decidedly sanguine attitude and repeatedly downplayed the threat of the epidemic As of September 17, Chicago had no reported cases. But now that “the news of this epidemic has circulated,” said Robertson, “probably everyone who gets a bad cold or a slight fever will think they’ve caught Spanish influenza. Tell them to go to bed and lie quiet a while. It’ll pass off.”[20]


September 17, 1918, Evanston News-Index

It did not pass off.  From late September through October, the epidemic spread quickly. By mid-October, the Chicago Defender announced: “Spanish Plague Raging in Chicago.”[21]

The next six weeks constituted the deadliest period of the spread of the epidemic. Like a wildfire it took off unchecked.

On September 23, the city of Evanston recorded its first influenza case. Just four days earlier, influenza had been reported as having sickened six students enrolled in army training programs at Northwestern University. A “strict quarantine of barracks” was ordered.[22]

One week later, four Evanston residents had died: Gladys May Beyers, Florence Johnson, Almalie Bell, and Harry W. Iserman.[23] 


Gladys May Beyers lived with her parents on Forest Ave in Evanston. A graduate of Sweet Briar College, she was a volunteer in the Evanston Red Cross and was “well known in Evanston society.” She died at the Evanston Hospital just days after becoming sick with influenza. (“Epidemic Victim,” Chicago Tribune, September 27, 1918.)

It soon became apparent that the epidemic had several alarming patterns: this virulent strain of influenza often led to pneumonia; many victims died within days of falling ill; and many who died were young and otherwise healthy.[24]

Medical staff at the Evanston Hospital met in emergency session to devise “the best means for combating the threatening pandemic.” “By the co-operation of all members of the community,” they advised, “there is no need for alarm.” [25]

On October 2, the state of Illinois declared an epidemic, established an Influenza Commission, and launched a campaign to educate the public about how to stay healthy. Its primary goal, officials later revealed, was to “guard against undue alarm.” [26]

It was too late. Like other nearby towns, Evanston was in a muted panic. In just two weeks since the first case had been reported, twenty-five residents had died. Each day, as many as two hundred new cases were now being reported. The “proportion of cases among children” was increasing rapidly.[27] And the number of cases continued to climb.[28]  At the pandemic’s height, as many as 600 daily cases were reported in the city.


“Ignorance is More Destructive than War,” Illinois State Board of Health, 1918


Influenza continued to spread across the country. Now, all Americans were instructed that they were required to join in a new kind of fight being waged on the home front.

Influenza was an ENEMY.
It needed to be COMBATTED.
It needed a multi-pronged ATTACK.

Just as soldiers overseas suited up for combat, so too did many Americans in cities and towns across the country.


Homefront/Warfront, Chicago Tribune, October 2, 1918

There was, however, no federally-mandated plan of “attack;” Health ordinances, safety precautions, and official regulations were crafted on an ad hoc basis and they varied widely across the country.

On Thursday, October 3, the nearby town of Winnetka issued an order to deploy armed troops within the city to “protect” residents from the influenza invasion.[29] Two days later, the towns of Wilmette and Kenilworth followed suit; By Saturday, Wilmette, Winnetka, Hubbard Woods, and Glencoe were under quarantine. All schools, churches, and places of amusement were closed.[30] Other nearby towns and the city of Chicago began banning public gatherings and implementing strict regulations. The state’s regulations, which banned public amusements and other gatherings went into effect everywhere, including in Evanston.


Quarantine announcement, Evanston News-Index, October 5, 1918.

Despite having as many as 300 cases reported in a single day, Evanston was the only city or town in Illinois north of Chicago that did not order a quarantine at the pandemic’s outset .*

Around Evanston, the picture was bleak: Pharmacies reported being swamped by customers looking for remedies to treat or ward off the virus. Prescriptions for heroin, cocaine, morphine, and opium were on the rise, with over 100,000 prescriptions (to combat flu) being written by doctors in just one month in the Chicago area.[31]

“Don’t dope yourself” urged Illinois medical officials, responding to the alarming increase in narcotic use, as well as the commonly held perception that drinking alcohol was beneficial in treating influenza.[32]

Drugstore clerks were “worn out” in Evanston, the local newspaper reported. Soon, the Central Street Pharmacy, at 1900 Central Street, was forced to close entirely after its proprietor W.L. Daniel fell ill with influenza.[33]

Work at the Evanston Post Office all but ceased as twelve employees got sick.[34] With nearly every single worker “down with the influenza,” the Evanston Railway company, which operated the city’s street cars, established a “skip stop” service, only stopping at every other stop.[35]

A request went out to Evanston residents to limit their telephone use. The reason: Roughly one third of the city’s telephone operators were sick.[36] The “first of the Evanston telephone girls to succumb to influenza,” twenty-year old Clara Stauber, who worked at the telephone exchange at 612 Davis Street, died in October.[37] 

Stauber was one of many young Evanston women who were dying from the disease. Three weeks earlier, 32-year old Frances Poole, described by a local paper as a “prominent society girl,” died from influenza while working as an Army nurse in Oswego, New York.[38] 

Frances Poole (1886-1918). A graduate of Evanston Township High School,  Poole attended Northwestern before enrolling in a nurse training program. On August 1, 1918, Poole left Evanston to work as a nurse in a military hospital (General Hospital No. 5) at Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York. There, she treated sick and wounded U.S. troops who had been brought back home from France. She contracted influenza in September 1918. Her loss was described as sacrifice in service. She “gave her life yesterday for her country” as the Evanston News-Index wrote. On October 26, 1918, a memorial service for Poole took place at St Luke’s Church in Evanston.

Read more about Frances Poole.

Evanston residents would learn of more deaths of other young women, who passed away heroically serving their country. At the nearby Great Lakes Training facility, a total of seven nurses would die during the pandemic: Theresa Burmeister, Myrtle Grant, Edith Hokanson, Emma Kotte, Alice Lea, Garnet Olive Peck, and Amber Story. (For more, see Carol Byerly, The U.S. Military and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918–1919.)

The fact that so many young women – from students to stenographers – were dying at a time when the nation had been so wracked with worry about its sons overseas was a particularly striking aspect of the pandemic.

Stories of mothers passing away and leaving their families behind told the tales of heartbreak. And more than one family bore the dual tragedies of war and illness:

When Nellie Simpson, age 47, of Washington Street, died at the Evanston Hospital, she left behind two daughters, also sick with influenza, and a husband who had only just recovered after contracting influenza while working at the Great Lakes Training Station. The Simpsons’ only son, Nels, was serving in France.[39]

Within two weeks, the Goacher family, who lived on Maple Street, lost their 14-year old son to influenza and Mr. Goacher’s only brother was killed in combat in France.[40]

The Schaefer family’s youngest son, John Schaefer, departed Evanston in August for training camp. Two months later, he embarked on a troop ship where he died of influenza before reaching France.[41]

Across the city, many also confronted serious economic hardship. “The loss in the earning capacity of those who have been stricken has not been computed,” observed the Evanston News-Index, “but it is a very definite loss.”[42] Many who fell ill were workers in industries that brought them in greater contact with others- the postal service, transportation, and retail – and thus made them more susceptible to catching influenza.

The top floor of the Evanston Hospital was converted into an emergency facility for white patients suffering from influenza and pneumonia.[43] Evanston’s Black residents, who were not, as a rule, admitted to that hospital or to St. Francis, the city’s other hospital, turned to the Evanston Sanitarium, a hospital founded in 1914 by Dr. Isabella Garnett and Dr. Arthur Butler. Indeed, for Black Evanston residents, the experience of the pandemic was “framed by the disadvantages of racial prejudice.”[44] 

The pandemic would underscore disadvantages among residents based not only on race, but also on class. There can be no doubt that those who were poor and working class suffered more acutely since they were without the means to pay for doctor visits and other necessities. In essence, in Progressive-Era Evanston, many relied on charity and the goodwill of their wealthier neighbors for help in a crisis.

“Lend Your Maid to the Sick.” This was a call that went out to the city’s wealthy residents to offer their maids to help families afflicted with the virus. “It is a patriotic duty for the home of many servants to offer those which can be spared for the greater need of the city,” the Evanston News-Index advised.[45] Such a statement underscored the city’s vast class differences; the great majority of sick people remained at home, without help.



A call for nurses in Evanston, Evanston News-Index, October 9, 1918.

When the first call for nurses went out, a dozen women and one man answered; none, except one, had any medical training. But they volunteered to go to the homes of flu victims throughout Evanston and “offer their assistance in whatever capacities they might be needed.”[46]


“Eligible” was a term defined by race. Chicago Tribune, June 2, 1918.

Since the start of the war, The American Red Cross, which recruited nurses for service in the military and at home, had managed several campaigns to enlarge its nursing corps. However, the organization did not accept Black women into its ranks. (The U.S. military would remain segregated until 1948). Even after it officially lifted its bar in 1917, the Red Cross reportedly sidelined Black applicants; their applications left untended. It was only with the onset of the pandemic that the Red Cross began to “allow” Black nurses to serve in military camps beset by influenza. (See Marian Moser Jones, “The American Red Cross and Local Response to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: A Four-City Case Study.”)

The city of Evanston was in crisis, with many in desperate need of help. Evanston’s Central Association of Charities, which served as a clearing house for citywide organizations that offered assistance to those in need, reported: “For three weeks we have had emergency work night and day – calls for doctors, nurses, food, bedding and help of every kind, whole families of 5 to 13 persons being completely prostrated.”[47]

On October 10, the Woman’s Club of Evanston organized an “emergency kitchen” to prepare and deliver food to families stricken with influenza. Soup, cornbread, and stew were provided for free to those who could not pay. Again underscoring the city’s class differences, club volunteers donated use of their own automobiles to deliver the food around the city.[48]


Emergency kitchen operation, Woman’s Club of Evanston, 1918. Photograph from Robert H. Moulton, “The Evanston Community Kitchen,” Munsey’s Magazine, March 1921.

Influenza was now “ravaging the city in epidemic proportions” with the death toll “daily mounting.”[49] At one point, the city’s 31 physicians were so busy caring for patients that they were unable to submit the daily tally of new cases to city officials.[50]

On October 8 – weeks into the pandemic – Dr. Roome announced a “drastic measure.” He would “put an end to all public activities until the epidemic is under control.”[51]

The order was approved by Evanston’s mayor, Harry P. Pearsons. Evanston was now under quarantine.


Quarantine Order, October 7, 1918, Evanston News-Index


Evanston News-Index, October 8, 1918.


“It looked like the beginning of a dark and dreary day. The sky was gray and the early morning atmosphere a bit foggy, with a hint of rain . . . town closed up tight, everybody sick or dead with the influenza, papers full of it.”[52]

Evanston News-Index, October 12, 1918

Every night, the city’s “old town bell” in Fountain Square rang. The Evanston City Council voted to resume the nightly ritual, long neglected, as a reminder that the city was under “influenza quarantine.”[53]

All public schools were shuttered; all meetings cancelled; the reading room at the Evanston Public Library was closed. Recently drafted men who were scheduled to leave for training were on hold, waiting for orders to leave at the lifting of the quarantine.[54] Children sixteen years and younger were ordered “to remain on their own premises.” Police were deployed to patrol the city on the lookout for children; later, they began apprehending them; by October 12, police had taken three children into custody.[55]

At Roome’s office, the phone rang off the hook with people calling to “demand advice and instruction” regarding “each and every particular case and the observation of quarantine.” Like so many other officials, Roome continued to be upbeat. In the midst of one of the pandemic’s worst weeks, and on a day when three Evanston residents died, Roome told the press “the disease is not gaining here.” Within a few days, he said, “it would begin to subside.” [56]

For a while, Northwestern University remained open even after the city’s official quarantine order (private schools were exempt); but all female students were barred from leaving Evanston; they, along with the 1,600 male students on campus, were all being “closely watched for any sign of illness.“[57]

As the epidemic worsened, (at least 42 cases were reported at Northwestern and three students would die during this period), Northwestern imposed its own quarantine which barred students from leaving campus entirely.[58]


“Oh, Fluey!” Daily Northwestern, November 6, 1918. Students were only allowed to attend classes during the quarantine at the university.

Along with the quarantine order, a list of regulations went into effect:

  • Spitting in public places was “absolutely prohibited.”
  • All clerks must be sent home from work immediately if they were sick.
  • Special precautions were ordered in hotels, restaurants, and ice cream parlors, including “properly sterilizing” dishes after use.
  • People in street cars, stores, and public buildings were ordered to hold handkerchiefs over their faces when coughing or sneezing.
  • No sharing of “common cups” in offices was allowed.
  • Barbers were ordered to wear gauze masks when serving customers.[59]


Barbers and clients, outdoor barber shop, c. 1918. Photo, National Archives and Records Administration.

The authorities were serious, as Joseph Poklen, who worked as a barber at 1937 Central Street, soon found out.

Poklen was one of four barbers arrested and charged with violating a public health ordinance after officials received complaints that they failed to wear masks while working.[60] Poklen was brought before a city judge and fined ten dollars. “It’s an awful thing to be a barber these days and have to wear masks and everything, just because of the influenza epidemic,” Poklen said, explaining that he had simply forgotten to put his mask on.[61]


On September 12, 1918, (about a month before his arrest), 42-year old Joseph Stanley Poklen had gone to the Evanston City Hall to register for the draft. The draft age had recently been expanded to include men 18 to 45. Poklen, who was self-employed, and his wife, Lena Faner Poklen, lived just down the street from his shop on Central Street. Lena was born in Germany.


The policing of residents continued as the quarantine wore one. Even Dr. Roome took it upon himself to investigate reported violations. One morning, the city’s health commissioner himself showed up at a service in progress at Saint Mary’s Church at Oak Ave and Lake Street, with roughly 200 people in attendance – a clear violation of the quarantine order. “I at once stopped further entrance of anyone,” Roome recounted. “I also ordered that the congregation be dismissed and that no service be held in the church.”[62]

Residents were also encouraged to take further precautions, including wearing face masks or “germ screens” and avoiding “dry sweeping.” (Sweeping was widely believed to circulate influenza through dust blown into the atmosphere.) People were also encouraged to hose down sidewalks to eliminate dust. At Northwestern, “all the walks and roads on the campus” were “sprinkled” with water in order “to keep the dust down,”[63] while the city ordered members of the Evanston Fire Department to turn their hoses on full blast and water the “entire length of Davis Street.”[64]


DIY face covering, pattern for a “Germ Screen,” Chicago Tribune, October 6, 1918

Newspapers were full of advice on how to combat the disease; and numerous products and services, from Dixie Cups to Listerine, Lysol to dry cleaning, were advertised as offering protection from influenza.


Advertisement, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 8, 1918.


Advertisement, Six-One-Nine Cleaners, 1619 Sherman Ave, Evanston News-Index, December 17, 1918.

With the onset of the pandemic, orders and regulations issued by officials seemed only to lengthen the already familiar litany of instructions that reminded people on a daily basis that their lives were not “normal;” they had been curtailed by something beyond their control; first a war, and now a pandemic.

“Don’t shake, but salute friends.” [65] This was but another dictate issued to stop the practice of the handshake, a perfect reflection of a country that had been forced to alter even the smallest of human gestures in the face of a war and a pandemic. The martial air of saluting was right in step with the wartime climate that fall.

100% American

The obituary list grew longer, reflecting an expanding landscape of sorrow across the city.

Despite the reality of what was unfolding, some officials tried to maintain morale, often proclaiming that the epidemic was slowing; it was “lessening;” it would soon be over.

Just two days before Evanston’s quarantine proclamation, health authorities announced that “the Spanish influenza epidemic is on the wane.” Still, these hopeful statements were coupled with warnings to remain vigilant. “Cold, gray days may come,” the Chicago Tribune warned, “and the black figure of the disease darken city homes again with an increasing menace.”[66]

Cold, gray days, indeed. The local press looked for any cheery stories to report. There was, for instance, “a little skit being daily enacted during the Spanish influenza times by a group of lively Evanston youngsters,” the Evanston News-Index reported. Little Jimmy Joe and Frank Davis, who lived on the corner of Hinman Avenue and Lake Street, had joined forces with their young neighbors, Marion Walker and Shirley Rand of Lake Street. Together, “they rigged up a system of communication by means of twine and a candy box where messages and gifts are sent back and forth briskly and a lot of fun goes on, while at the same time the health regulations are virtuously complied with.”[67]  

Even as the pandemic intensified, the campaign to keep residents focused on supporting the war effort would continue.


“Are you an American?” Evanston News-Index, October 17, 1918. All “slackers” were to be segregated, while “100% Americans” were to be celebrated. Note that the Mark Manufacturing Co. of Evanston lists subscribers to the loan drive according to nationality.

“On each Evanstonian, man, woman or child, rests the responsibility of 100% efficiency that our accomplishments may be true and perfect, that every soul answers to the call of duty, we must bear any sacrifice, how great it may befall.” So stated the full-page statement that called for support for the 4th Liberty Loan drive from all Evanston residents. (above).

As the pandemic continued, the loss of life, along with so much suffering, might well have seemed to be somehow connected to this greater call for sacrifice. The losses existed within the larger context of a nation in crisis, a country at war. 


On October 18, Roome announced that he would lift some of the regulations against public gatherings. Still, he said, “this does not mean that we must cease for a minute our most careful efforts to prevent any further cases developing.” He strongly urged people to avoid unnecessary gatherings. He specifically cited Evanston’s close proximity to Chicago, with its “large number of cases” and “the constant going back and forth of people between the two cities,” as posing significant risks.[68]


Map showing Chicago’s death count from influenza (1499) and pneumonia (789) for one week (ending October 26, 1918), Robertson, p 58.

On October 21, Evanston schools were allowed to open.[69] And on November 4, the “influenza lid” was lifted. Now movie theaters could open; funerals and public dances could be held, provided, officials warned, precautions continued to be taken “related to cleanliness overcrowding, ventilation and the exclusion of people with colds.”[70]


Armistice announcement, Evanston News-Index, November 11, 1918,

Less than a week later, Evanston erupted in celebration. “It began at 2:30 o’clock this morning with the first rumor that victory had been won and that the war was over,” the press reported. “Before dawn all Evanston was in uproar with the shrilling of whistles, the clanging of bells, the crack of firearms, the blare of trumpets and horns and the shouts and songs of a rejoicing populace.” A bonfire was lit near Fountain Square and the Kaiser was burned in effigy. “A mob of women and girls marched down Davis street in military formation . . . all carried flags.”[71]

The war had come to an end.

But the pandemic would continue. And once again, cases would begin to rise.


Daily Northwestern, December 4, 1918

“Just as everyone had settled down with a sigh of relief after the lifting of the first influenza quarantine, come alarming rumors that a second one maybe on,”  Daily Northwestern, December 4, 1918.

 “A second wave of illness” was now spreading over  “the entire North Shore.”[72] By December 10, 1918, a total of 600 new cases had been reported in Evanston.[73]

Once again, Roome brought the “quarantine lid” down on Evanston.


Second Quarantine Proclamation, December 10, 1918

And so, once more, beginning December 11, churches, movie theaters, pool rooms, and lodges were ordered closed, and all social gatherings were banned “until further notice.” [74] Schools, however, were allowed to stay open. “We are allowing the schools to remain open as we believe that, everything considered, the children are better off in the schoolroom where they are under daily supervision,” Roome said.[75]

At Northwestern, students were required to report to their dormitory directors each morning for a health inspection. Those showing signs of illness were confined to their rooms; a little red sign was hung on the door that read: “Suspicious Case. No Admittance.” For two weeks, students were instructed that they were not to travel to Chicago under any circumstances.[76]

As the holidays approached, Roome announced he was cancelling the city’s annual public holiday celebration and Christmas tree lighting. He also had this advice: “Do your Christmas shopping early as to avoid crowded stores and make fewer shopping trips to Chicago.”[77] A  campaign to “Buy in Evanston” was on, and people cautiously ventured into city shops.

On December 23, three inches of snow fell. “It came suddenly and took the people by surprise. When they looked out their windows they thought they still were dreaming, but after rubbing their eyes realized it is winter as well as Christmas.”[78]

Local merchants would report their most successful holiday season ever, owing, they said to “the general rejoicing due to peace,” as well as, ironically, the influenza epidemic which kept many people away from Chicago and “making their purchases in Evanston.”[79]

As the end of the year drew near, daily new case numbers gradually started to decline. Thirty. Then twenty five. Then twelve.[80] By the time the quarantine was lifted on Monday, December 30, only ten new cases had been reported.[81] Roome urged continued caution.

But on the verge of a new year, “everybody,” as the Evanston News-Index wrote, “is happy.”[82]


Don’t look back. The end of 1918.


“Spanish influenza has left an indelible impression on Evanston.”[83]

The new year, 1919, so full of hope and promise, proved to be a continuation of the pandemic, although in a very slightly lesser form. Cases continued to be reported, and many more people died.

It was not until the summer of 1919 that the pandemic would truly wane. And by 1920, it was largely over, although less-deadly waves recurred in 1921 and 1922. Indeed, fear of the disease would remain for years, and for a long time, people found themselves continuing to prepare for another outbreak. “The epidemic may appear here at any time,” warned Ada Murry, of Evanston’s Red Cross chapter, in January 1920.


Still in a state of “preparedness,” Chicago Tribune, January 17, 1920.

The height of the pandemic lasted several weeks. From September 21 to November 16, 1918, a total of 37,921 cases of influenza and 13,109 cases of pneumonia were reported in the state of Illinois. Evanston recorded 2,878 cases.[84]

In that time span alone, Illinois recorded 25,000 deaths. Chicago recorded 8,510 deaths. Evanston recorded 194 deaths.[85]

“The seriousness of the epidemic of influenza which has afflicted us so sorely is not questioned by anyone,” the Evanston News-Index wrote. “More people have died in a few months from this one disease and the pneumonia that follows it than were killed and wounded in the year and a half of our participation in the war.”[86]

Ultimately, a total of 320,710 war casualties were counted among the Americans, with 116,516 killed in combat. Before it ran its course, the pandemic would claim an estimated 675,000 deaths in the United States and 20-50 million lives worldwide. 


Influenza Toll, Rock Island Argus, December 5, 1918. Just three weeks after the war ended, the larger picture of loss came into focus as the U.S. government issued military casualty statistics and the numbers of deaths from the pandemic were calculated. 

Death in war was inevitable. The fact that so many people died in 1918, whether in the war or because of the pandemic, was contextualized within a generalized culture of loss, of grief.

The larger setting of the pandemic was, to put it simply, already cluttered with sadness and fear. The toll of reported war deaths and injuries had been made public on a daily basis for months since the fall of 1917, when the United States began to unfurl its “honor roll,” the list of those killed in the war.


“Heroes Who Bled for Nation,” Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1918.

During the war, many of  the faces of the “local boys” who died in training camps and overseas appeared on the front pages of newspapers. For the families of these men, telegrams brought the news of their deaths directly to them and into their homes.


“Deeply Regret to Inform….”

The deaths of military personnel that were directly attributable to the pandemic, however, were reported as a part of the longer list of war casualties. Despite the fact that so many service members and volunteers died or fell ill without ever setting foot in a war zone was not emphasized. Instead, they were considered part of the growing list of “war dead.”


“List of Alumni and Former Students Who Died in National Service in The Great War, 1914-1918,”  Northwestern University Bulletin, The President’s Report For 1917-1919, 1920, 43. The number of deaths attributed to disease reflects the vast impact of the 1918 pandemic.

Ironically, amidst this overwhelming setting of loss, people lived through the pandemic in an environment that had been restrained emotionally by the war. Expressions of patriotism — those overt, public manifestations of one’s support for the war — were both allowed and encouraged. In fact, they were practically required by the heavy hand of an increasingly powerful federal government. But other emotions – fear, sorrow, disbelief, anger – were not as readily afforded spaces in which to be expressed publicly. And, because so many pandemic victims died at home, their loss was experienced as a private matter, not part of the national story.

As historian Patricia Fallan observes of the 1918 pandemic: “The vast numbers of war deaths had already blunted the emotions of survivors. A terrible war subdued the normal community responses to an enormous loss of life at home.”[87]


“Evanston’s Roll of Honor,” Evanston News-Index, April 13, 1919.Sixteen of the 34 Evanston residents who died “in service” died due to the pandemic.

Throughout the war, the city’s service flag had flown in Fountain Square, each star representing a resident who was in military service. The city’s Gold Star flag, which represented those who had died in service appeared each day in the city newspaper, the Evanston News-Index.


Evanston Gold Stars. Each star represented a resident who died in the war.

Those who did not serve in the war, but died on the home front during the pandemic, were not represented in any public memorial. During the quarantine periods, all funerals or services were ordered to be private only. And as a result, the losses suffered because of the pandemic seemed strictly personal. Grief and mourning took on a rigorously private aspect.

Occasionally, a small reflection of the widespread private mourning that was going on throughout the city appeared:

Families of those who died occasionally published “Cards of Thanks.” This one is from Clara Stauber’s family members. Evanston News-Index, October 28, 1918.

By 1921, the pandemic was not the only thing to vanish. Most references to the experience of the pandemic had all but disappeared from the popular press. It was as if it had never happened. Looking ahead. Not looking back.


A (Missing) Legacy

And I thought, Death, if I don’t think of you, you’ll vanish.
Horton Foote, 1918 [88] 

“[F]ew narratives record the pandemic,” wrote David A. Davis, “so the collective memory of the pandemic–the common experience that . . . establishes and maintains identity within a group–appears to be missing.”[89]

The enormous losses brought on by both the pandemic and the war left Evanston, the United States, and the world, with a terrible legacy. In the years that followed, the bitter memory of those cold, gray days would linger for millions, but those memories would be largely kept private, just as the experience of the pandemic itself had been largely private.

There were certainly stories of bravery and sacrifice to recall. And, as the government proclaimed, “victory” in the war had been achieved, even during such a tragic time.

In the years after the war, it was not long before many people began to feel that the war’s high idealism had not be realistic. Responses to the war and its impact varied, but for many, the 1920s would bring about widespread efforts to leave the past behind, to redefine conventions, shatter old traditions, and remake the world in a better way – one that could tame all the horrors that a truly modern society was capable of producing –  world wars, pandemics.

This era was, in many ways, an era all about forgetting, of leaving the past behind and forging ahead.

This may be one reason the 1918 pandemic was also left behind, largely untreated in novels and films. It was certainly one of the two biggest stories of the young 20th century, but as soon as it concluded, it was left untended, simply too difficult to comprehend; it was a narrative that did not fit any traditional schemes, and it was not at home in the manic crazy of remaking the world in modern forms. It remained a missing legacy.

Guy Beiner, a historian at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, argues that the 1918 pandemic never took a position in the world’s collective memory. “Without a narrative schema to anchor it,”  Beiner told Scientific American in an August 2020 article “the pandemic all but vanished from public discourse soon after it ended.” One reason, Beiner posits: “The doctors had shame . . . . It was a huge failure of modern medicine.”

The failures were indeed numerous: government and health officials failed to impose restrictions early on; failed to inform people of the actual dangers of the highly-infectious virus in favor of attempting to maintain calm; and failed to coordinate efforts across states; overall, they allowed the war to take center stage over the more immediate needs of disease control. (For more on this subject, see Nancy Tomes’ fascinating piece here.)

The pandemic and the war were both failures of modern industrial society; and each constituted an experience that was suffered in greater proportion by the working class and the poor. And each was experienced unequally according to race and class.

As the world moved on, the memories of those days would be left to individuals; those who suffered, sacrificed, and lost so much.

In 2021, as the world grapples with another pandemic, the search for the history of the 1918 pandemic has escalated and various scholars, museums, archives, and writers have shared resources. In April 2020, the Library of Congress published Stories from the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic from Ethnographic Collections while the U.S. National Archives collected various resources to publish on its website.  

Scholars and writers who have researched and written about the 1918 pandemic are in demand; the need to know and understand this history has intensified.  

One of the many lessons of the 1918 pandemic lies in reaffirming the value of preserving the historical record; our collective efforts to chronicle and document the experiences of the current pandemic are critical; and all stories, from all corners of the globe, are equally valuable. After all, this is a global narrative. And while it is, in many ways, being experienced in isolation, each experience is central to the overall story, the story of a world facing another seismic event, one that for years after will be studied, its stories told by future generations.

It is in recording, sharing, and preserving our stories that we may feel less alone and less isolated; and we can find connection even in the darkest of times.

~Jenny Thompson

Read More about the 1918 Pandemic 

Contribute to the historical record: In April 2019, the Evanston History Center launched a community-based collecting project to create an archive and digital record dedicated to documenting the COVID-19 pandemic in Evanston and surrounding areas.

We continue to seek digital contributions, from images to documents. We want to ensure that Evanston’s experiences are documented for future generations. You can read the submission guidelines here. You must be 18 years of age or older to submit to the archive.

How to Contribute:

  1. You can use this form to contribute a written document to the archive right now!
  2. You can submit photos or pdfs to EHC via email to Jenny Thompson:

Please make sure you identify your items by providing as much information as you are able. Name of creator, date created, place, etc.

What to contribute? It may be an idea, an observation, a reflection, a photo or scan of an Evanston scene or a sign on a shop, the record of your day, your feelings about Evanston’s particular response to the pandemic, etc. These contributions will constitute a community record of this time. We will house them in a new collection that will be available to researchers at the Evanston History Center at a later date.

Although we are not currently accepting physical donations to the archive, we hope that you will consider preserving items for future donation.

Please contact Jenny Thompson at with questions or to submit your contribution via email. 

You can learn more about this project by listening to Jill Schacter’s interview with project organizer Dr. Jenny Thompson on the Evanston Public Library’s podcast, “The Checkout”:

* Quarantines in 1918 were different from those we know in 2020. During the 1918 pandemic, a quarantine was essentially a ban on any public gathering, including in schools, churches, and other places, but places of business were still allowed to operate.

[1] John M. Barry, “The site of origin of the 1918 influenza pandemic and its public health implications,” Journal of Translational Medicine, 2004, 3.

[2] The 1918 outbreak was dubbed the “Spanish flu,” although the name was not based on any geographical connection between the country of Spain and the origin of the disease. Instead, Spain was the only European country that did not operate under wartime censorship and, as a result, reports of the outbreak there were freely shared with the world, leading the outbreak to bear the country’s name. Once the moniker was in use, it would continue.

[3] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 13, 1918; “Spanish Influenza Here, Ship Men Say,” New York Times, August 14, 1918.

[4] James I. Johnston, MD, “History an Epidemiology of Influenza,” in Studies on Epidemic Influenza: Comprising Clinical and Laboratory Investigations (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh, 1919,) 21.

[5] Others argue that cases as early as January 1918 went unrecorded.

[6]  U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, The Medical Department of the U.S. Army in the World War, Volume 9 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1928), 70. Camp Funston is still largely identified as the epicenter of the 1918 pandemic, although some other research pinpoints other locations. It was not only Camp Funston that would see an outbreak of influenza in the spring of 1918. In late March 1918, a military doctor stationed at Camp Sevier, South Carolina, was appointed to investigate an outbreak of the disease at the camp. The soldiers who fell ill (a few died) were later deemed by the board of officers investigating the outbreak to have suffered from influenza. But, as one of the doctors wrote afterward, “at that time none of us dreamed of any possible connections with a severe epidemic to occur later.” Warren Taylor Vaughan,  Influenza: An Epidemiologic Study. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1921), 15-16.

[7] New York Times, June 28, 1918.

[8] U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, The Medical Department of the U.S. Army in the World War, Volume 9. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1928, 66.

[9] Carol R. Byerly, “The U.S. Military and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919,” Public Health Reports Vol. 125. (Washington, D.C: 1974, 2010): 82-91.

[10] Byerly, 82.

[11] Orlando Evening Star, July 16, 1918.

[12] “Kaiser Has Influenza,” New York Times, July 19, 1918.

[13] Nancy K. Bristow, American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012, 44.

[14] “Health Head Calls Influenza Inquiry,” New York Times, August 16, 1918.

[15] “Influenza Sweeps Over the Country,” Boston Globe, September 26, 1918.

[16] Jeff Nichols, “The Ghosts of Great Lakes,” Chicago Reader, April 6, 2020.  For more about press censorship during the war, see: James Mock, Censorship, 1917 Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1941); Susan A. Brewer, Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

[17] “New Food Order Hits All Local Eating Places,” Evanston News-Index, October 22, 1918.

[18] “State Demands Report of Al New ‘Flu’ Cases,” Chicago Tribune, September 26, 1918.

[19] “Take Steps to Guard City,” Evanston News-Index, September 17, 1918.

[20] “Take Steps to Guard City,” Evanston News-Index, September 17, 1918,

[21] Chicago Defender, October 19, 1918.

[22] “Influenza Hits Soldiers on the Campus,” Evanston News-Index, September 19, 1918.

[23] “Four Die Here of Influenza,” Evanston News-Index, September 26, 1918.

[24] As later became apparent, the 1918 pandemic had a high mortality rate, and it concentrated within certain age groups, particularly those between 20 and 40 years old. Gagnon A, Miller MS, Hallman SA, Bourbeau R, Herring DA, et al. (2013) “Age-Specific Mortality During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Unravelling the Mystery of High Young Adult Mortality,” PLoS ONE 8(8): e6958.6. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069586 Editor, Paul Digard, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, August 5, 2013.

[25] “Evanston Hospital Medical Staff Meets to Discuss the Best Means to Check Influenza,” Evanston News-Index, September 25, 1918.

[26] “Influenza Rules Issued by State Health Officials,” Evanston News-Index, October 2, 1918; John Dill Robertson, M. D., Report of an Epidemic on Influenza in Chicago Occurring During the Fall of 1918, Reprinted from The Octennial Report Department of Health City of Chicago 1911-1918 (Chicago, IL: 1919), 85.

[27] “Health Commissioner Issues Proclamation Ordering Drastic Methods to Check Disease Spread,” Evanston News-Index, October 8 1918.

[28] “145 New Cases of ‘Flu’ Reported,” Evanston News-Index, October 7, 1918.

[29] “Soldiers to Protect People of Winnetka from Epidemic,” Evanston News-Index, October 3, 1918; “Wilmette and Kenilworth in Drastic Move,” Evanston News-Index, October 5 1918.

[30] “North Shore Under Quarantine,” Evanston News-Index, October 5 1918.

[31] John Dill Robertson, Report of an Epidemic on Influenza in Chicago, 138.

[32] “Banish Opium Robertson Plea to Physicians,” Chicago Tribune, August 25, 1919.

[33] “Health Commissioner Issues Proclamation Ordering Drastic Methods to Check Disease Spread.” Evanston News-Index, October 8, 1918.

[34] “Wilmette and Kenilworth in Drastic Move,” Evanston News-Index, October 5 1918.

[35] “Lands a Hard Blow at Tramway System,” Evanston News-Index, October 26, 1918.

[36] “Warns Evanston To Cut Down On Telephone Calls,” Evanston News-Index, September 23, 1918.

[37] “Telephone Girl Dies,” Evanston News-Index, October 24 1918

[38] “Frances Poole, Army Nurse, Dies in Eastern Camp,” Evanston News-Index, October 9, 1918.

[39] “Worked to Permit Son to Go to War; Influenza Victim,” Evanston News-Index, October 4, 1918. Nels Simpson (1892-1974) survived the war and returned to Evanston where he worked as a milk distributor before retiring to Florida in the late 1960s.

[40] “Frank Goacher,” Evanston News-Index, November 12, 1918.

[41] “Evanston Soldier Dies Aboard Ship,” Evanston News-Index, October 28, 1918.

[42] Editorial, Evanston News-Index, December 22, 1918.

[43] “Pneumonia Claims 3 In One Day,” Evanston News-Index, October 10 1918

[44] Nancy K. Bristow, American Pandemic, 72. More research on the experiences of Black Americans during the pandemic is needed. As historian Elizabeth Schlabach notes the “historiography of the African American experience during the influenza epidemic is shockingly sparse.” Schlabach, “The Influenza Epidemic and Jim Crow Public Health Policies and Practices in Chicago, 1917–1921,” The Journal of African American History (Winter 2019), 33.

[45] “Lend Your Maid to the Sick,” Evanston News-Index, October 12, 1918. 

[46] “Women Respond to Call for Nurses,” Evanston News-Index, October 11, 1918.

[47] “Charities Association Head Tells How People Cooperated to Aid Victims of Influenza,” Evanston News Index, October 28, 1918.

[48] “Send Food at Cost to Stricken People,” Evanston News-Index, October 11, 1918.

[49] “Pneumonia Claims Three in One Day,” Evanston News-Index, October 10, 1918.

[50] “Epidemic Now Under Control,” Evanston News-Index, October 12, 1918. 

[51] “Health Commissioner Issues Proclamation Ordering Drastic Methods to Check Disease Spread,” Evanston News-Index, October 8, 1918.

[52] “His Inspiration Lifts the Gloom,” Evanston News-Index, October 12, 1918.

[53] “Curfew to Warn Evanston Children From Streets,” Chicago Tribune, October 18, 1918.

[54] “Influenza Again Halts Draft Call,” Evanston News-Index, October 19, 1918.

[55] “Influenza Now Under Control,” Evanston News-Index, October 12, 1918.

[56] “People Quick to Respond to Quarantine Ban,” Evanston News-Index, October 9, 1918. “Pneumonia Claims Three in One Day,” Evanston News-Index, October 10 , 1918.

[57] “But One Student Dies of ‘Flu’; N.U. to Remain Open,” Evanston News-Index, October 17, 1918.

[58] “Place Quarantine Over N.U. Campus,” Evanston News-Index, October 21, 1918; “ ‘Flu’ Quarantine Lifted,” Daily Northwestern, November 6, 1918; “Health Conditions at N.U. Improved,” Evanston News-Index, October 25, 1918.

[59] “Health Commissioner Issues Proclamation Ordering Drastic Methods to Check Disease Spread,” Evanston News-Index, October 8, 1918.

[60] “More Maskless Tonsorial Artists Are Arrested,” Evanston News-Index, October 18, 1918. 

[61] “Barber Without Mask Arrested: Fined By Boyer,” Evanston News-Index, October 17, 1918. 

[62] “Quarantine Rules Broken by Catholics,” Evanston News-Index, October 14, 1918.  

[63] “Influenza Epidemic is Topic Discussed by the War Council,” Evanston News-Index, October 5, 1918.

[64] “Stevens Suggests Way to Stop Germs Spread,” Evanston News-Index, October 18, 1918.

[65] “Don’t Shake, But Salute Friends,” Evanston News-Index, October 29, 1918.

[66] “Health Officers Find Flu Epidemic Waning,” Chicago Tribune, October 7, 1918.

[67] “How To Be Happy in Quarantine? Ask the Evanston Kids-They Know,” Evanston News-Index, October 11, 1918. 

[68] “Commissioner in Statement, Sounds Warning,” Evanston News-Index, October 18, 1918

[69] “Epidemic Now Under Control; Schools Open,” Evanston News-Index, October 21, 1918.

[70] “Movies Reopen as City Gains Control of ‘Flu,” Evanston News-Index, November 5, 1918.

[71] “City Holds Big Victory Jubilation,” Evanston News-Index, November 11, 1918.

[72] Daily Northwestern, December 4, 1918.

[73] Chicago Tribune, December 10, 1918.

[74] “Increase of Cases Causes Roome To Act,” Evanston News Index, December 10, 1918.

[75] “Increase of Cases Causes Roome To Act,” Evanston News Index, December 10, 1918.

[76] Daily Northwestern, December 4, 1918.

[77] “Quarantine May End by Holidays; Declares Roome,”  Evanston News-Index, December 13, 1918.

[78] “Sudden Snow Fall Gives a Xmas Setting,” Evanston News-Index, December 24, 1918.

[79] “Local Merchants Break All Xmas Trade Records and Give Credit to Advertising,” Evanston News-Index,  December 26, 1918.

[80] “But 25 New Cases of Flu Reported, Evanston News-Index, December 24, 1918; “But 12 Cases of Influenza Today, Evanston News-Index, December 26, 1918.

[81] “Influenza Dan Lifted Monday; Check Disease,” Evanston News-Index,  December 28, 1918.

[82] “Quarantine Ban Off,” Evanston News-Index, December 30, 1918.

[83]  “Epidemic Aims Hard Blow at Many Families,” The Evanston News-Index, October 23, 1918.

[84] James I. Johnston, MD, “History an Epidemiology of Influenza,” in Studies on Epidemic Influenza: Comprising Clinical and Laboratory Investigations (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh, 1919), 21.

[85] United States Health Service, Public Health Reports, Volume 34, Part 2, July-December 1919, 2974.

[86] Editorial, Evanston News-Index, December 22, 1918.

[87] “The Impact of the Two World Wars on Cultures of Grieving,” Exploring Grief: Towards a Sociology of Sorrow (Taylor and Francis, 2019).

[88] Horton Foote, 1918 in Courtship, Valentine’s Day, 1918: Three Plays from “The Orphans’ Home Cycle,” New York: Grove Press, 1987, 138. 

[89] David A. Davis, “The Forgotten Apocalypse: Katherine Anne Porter’s “Pale Horse, Pale Rider,” Traumatic Memory, and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918,” The Southern Literary Journal, 43, no. 2 (2011).