1917- 1918 Influenza Epidemic Project

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The 1917-1918 Influenza Epidemic was one of most deadly infections, killing approximately 50 million people. The Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage program has collected, preserved, and digitized Hispanic newspapers from that era, which allows us to gain a better understanding of life during the 1917-1918 epidemic. During the 1917-1918 influenza epidemic, many media outlets and documents were heavily censored because countries involved in World War I, including the United States, did not want to decrease public morale toward the war effort. The only country that allowed for mass publication and reporting on the subject was Spain, one of the few countries that remained neutral during the war. Since it was the only country reporting on the illness, media across the world coined the derogatory term, “Spanish Flu.” This heavy censorship resulted in little documentation of the illness, the spread, or precautions taken, severely limiting public knowledge of the influenza. Furthermore, the information published was broad, scarce, and undermined the severity of the epidemic. Most of these publications did not take into consideration how flu affected different communities, especially People of Color. Because US Hispanic publications were written in Spanish, they did not experience the same level of censorship.