The War With Nature

1918 Influenza Pandemic


Graph of Pandemic

In the United States:

  • 25.8 million people were infected, 28% of the population
  • 670,000 people died
  • 20% of the deaths were children under 5
  • The average life expectancy dropped 12 years
  • 50% of the U.S. military deaths in WWI were caused by the flu


  • 20% of the population was infected
  • 20 to 100 million people died
  • Mortality rate was 2.5%


In the days before radio, television or the Internet, newspapers were people's source for information on the flu. The staff and volunteers at the Animas Museum use primary and secondary sources when creating an exhibit, whether on-line or at the Museum. Below are some additional sources, both primary and secondary, for you to learn more about this subject.

Primary sources provide a first-hand eye-witness account of an event or time period and are considered to be authoritative. They represent first-hand accounts of events and allow the reader direct engagement with events and people from the past. Examples of primary resources include: newspapers, diaries, correspondence, original documents (for example birth certificates), autobiographies, manuscripts, interviews, speeches, and oral histories. Primary sources can be found using library collections. Durango newspapers can be digitally searched at a dedicated computer terminal at the Durango Public Library. Colorado newspapers can be accessed and digitally searched through Colorado Historic Newspapers.

Secondary sources involve analysis, synthesis, interpretation, or evaluation of primary sources. They often attempt to describe or explain primary sources. Secondary sources can be used to trace the source of information back to primary sources. Examples of secondary sources include journal articles that comment on or analyze research, textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and biographies.

Primary and secondary sources will not self-identify what type of source they are. One must read and analyze the content, using critical thinking. Wiki sources are not considered appropriate for scholarly research but can be used for general information or as background information for additional research.

Newspaper Clipping Cold or Flu Newspaper Clipping What to Do Newspaper Clipping Newspaper Clipping Graden's Mercantile

Further Resources

To learn more about the 1918 Influenza pandemic, check out these sources:

Books to Read

  • The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, by John M. Barry
  • Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World, by Larua Spinney
  • Faces of the Flu: The 1918 Epidemic in Silverton, Colorado, by Freda Carley Peterson

Download the Junior Curator Sheet here


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