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Flu Proclamation Timeline

Oliver, Wade, Spanish influenza : all about it. Specialty Press, Melbourne, 1919.

The timeline catalogues the New South Wales Government’s Proclamations to control and manage the spread of 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the government response, as restrictions were imposed and civil liberties suspended, or alternatively as sanctions were repealed and normality restored.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’ chart influenza’s geographic spread across the state.

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 average person’s recreational life and social mores. Whether church services, public libraries or the playing of cricket, the pneumonic influenza of 1919 touched all walks of life.