In the final year of World War I, an extraordinary disease emerged – the pandemic of pneumonic influenza or ‘Spanish flu’. Highly infectious, it affected military and civilian populations equally, soon reaching almost all parts of the globe by the Armistice of November 1918. The immediacy of the crisis – its fear, suffering and mourning – remained intense in the memories of many who lived through it.

Because pneumonic influenza targeted adults in the prime of life, it cut across the workforce and a generation of parents. Its impact was therefore felt in almost every community and family around the globe. As a result, it is likely to be a part of nearly everybody’s family history and local history. In this sense, it truly was an intimate pandemic.

This website offers an overview of pneumonic influenza in Australia, especially its effect upon communities throughout New South Wales. It complements the RAHS research guide as a source of information and inspiration to begin your own investigation into its local or family impact. We urge community historians to share their research through publications, websites, presentations, media stories or commemorations. If you do create a ‘Spanish flu’ project, we’d love to hear about it.

Author: Dr Peter Hobbins, RAHS Councillor
Images: Sourced by Dr Peter Hobbins, RAHS Councillor
Web design: Laura Signorelli, RAHS Digital Coordinator

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