The timeline catalogues the New South Wales Government’s Proclamations to control and manage the spread of the pneumonic influenza in 1919. It documents the date of the proclamation, the affected localities, its contents and its author. This resource offers several layers of usefulness for historical researchers.

First, the government response can be usefully charted both over time and across different locations. Dates show the changing nature of the government response, as restrictions were imposed and civil liberties suspended, or alternatively as sanctions were repealed and normality restored. The listed ‘affected localities’ furthermore chart the influenza’s geographic spread across the state.

Oliver, Wade, Spanish influenza : all about it. Specialty Press, Melbourne, 1919. Available for download on Trove at https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/5266875

Second, for local historians, the timeline lists all ‘affected localities’ and the health measures taken in those areas. Hence, one could discern, for instance, when masks were to be worn in public throughout the County of Cumberland.

Third, the government proclamations inadvertently provide insights into the social life and values of the people of New South Wales in 1919. Specifying sanctions or lifting restrictions on particular activities gives rare insights into the recreational life and social mores of the average person. Whether church services, public libraries or the playing of cricket, the pneumonic influenza of 1919 touched all walks of life.

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