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Prince George 1918 Flu Epidemic Teachers Kit: Flu in Prince George: Corless Funeral Ledger

A primary source analysis utilizing resources from the Northern BC Archives & Special Collections at UNBC. A concept for a teaching resource for primary source research from NBCA for senior level Social Science studies curriculum.

Corless Funeral Ledger

Image of the cover of the Corless Funeral Record and LedgerCorless funeral ledger – Richard “Dick” Corless operated funeral business [undertakers parlour was the colloquial language of the day] at the corner of Quebec & Fourth Ave in PG. The Corless funeral ledger records deaths for Fort George area c. 1916 - c.1931 including local deaths caused by the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918-1919. View the entire digital copy of the ledger and the transcript created by the Prince George Family History Society. Spanish flu deaths begin on page 3 of the transcript, recorded as Bronchial Pneumonia, Pneumonia, or Influenza, through to page 7. Of the deaths recorded in the Corless ledger from middle of October 1918 when first diagnosed in Prince George to approximately end of April 1919 (when no new cases emerged) the register listed 55 cases of deaths by pneumonia.

This graph was created by Dr. Lianne Tripp, UNBC Anthropology Dept. and tracks the number of deaths by month during the epidemic in Prince George. Note: it was not unusual that the most deaths from influenza occurred in October as this was the peak month for most cities and towns around the world to experience influenza deaths.

Graph of influenza deaths during the 1918/19 Influenza pandemic in Prince George

1918 Flu Epidemic Teachers Kit - PDF version

Class Activity

Student Activity

Provide students with the link to the Corless funeral ledger, the print out of the transcriptions of the Corless funeral ledger records and the graph. This funeral ledger records the following information:

  • Place of death; cause of death; name; age; date of death; where born; occupation; residence; where buried; date of funeral; minister; physician
  • Type of funeral arrangements
  • Accounts Payable Information

(The original ledger records who ordered the funeral, accounting expenses; and the payee’s address)

Discussion Questions

What was the original function of the ledger?

What does the information recorded in the ledger tell about the cases of pneumonia that occurred in the Prince George area during that time period?

What age group were most of the deceased whose deaths are recorded by pneumonia?

What information is recorded for those deceased who were identified as First Nations?

How might the information recorded in the ledger be utilized by a researcher today?

What does the graph tell us about the cases of pneumonia during the pandemic?