Nancy Bristow Lecture on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and COVID-19

Submitted by Alexandra Colley Dusablon on

Professor Nancy Bristow, Chair of the Department of History at the University of Puget Sound, gave a lecture on June 2, 2020 titled "Pandemic Then (and Now): COVID-19 through the Lens of the 1918 Influenza Crisis." In this lecture, Professor Bristow explored Americans’ differential experiences with the 1918 pandemic as well as the public health and popular reactions that emerged in response to the scourge, and will suggest some insights this history offers as we face the complex challenges and choices COVID-19 is presenting to our local, national, and global communities. She drew 7 parallels between the two pandemics including the failures of presidential leadership, the smorgasbord of public health responses, trauma as a defining experience, and the impact of social identity. 

Nancy Bristow is the author of Making Men Moral: Social Engineering during the Great War (NYU, 1996), American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic (Oxford, 2012), and the recent Steeped in the Blood of Racism: Black Power, Law and Order, and the 1970 Shootings at Jackson State College (Oxford, 2020).

This event was co-sponsored by the University of Washington Department of History, the Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, and the Pacific Northwest Quarterly. History Department events are made possible by the Friends of History Fund.