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The 1918 Influenza Epidemic in Prince George: Learning Resource

A primary source analysis teaching resource about the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic in the Prince George area

Contact us

Northern BC Archives  & Special Collections's picture
Northern BC Archives & Special Collections
Contact:
Email: archives@unbc.ca

Hours of Service:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 AM-4:30 PM
Closed 12:30 PM-1:00 PM daily
Closed Weekends & Statutory Holidays
Appointments Recommended

Location: UNBC Prince George
Geoffrey R. Weller Library
4th Floor (Room 5-423)

Current Primary Sources

Local primary sources about the COVID-19 pandemic are being created now. How do they compare with the primary sources of the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic?

  • The Prince George Citizen (and other local news outlets)
  • Websites
  • Television/internet broadcasts
  • Government news releases

What other current primary sources can you think of?

Discussion

How can you compare your lived experiences of COVID-19 - with that of the experiences of people who lived during the Spanish flu epidemic?

Think about:

  • Political motives - For example, why might there be and/or have been a lack of transparency about what was happening?
  • Fear and myth-making - For example, in 1918 there were myths about the epidemic created by World War I enemies
  • Impacts of the lack of current knowledge about treatment and spread of false information and "cures"
  • Information sharing - how did this differ between 1918 and 2020 and what is the impact of those differences?
  • Lessons learned - what lessons were learned from the 1918/19 influenza pandemic and how did societies change as a result? What have you learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and how do you think societies should change to avoid or lessen the impact of future pandemics?

Activities

  • Make a timeline of how the current COVID-19 pandemic has affected Northern BC by doing current primary source research with newspapers, news releases, and more. 
  • Write a reflective essay, journal, blog or diary on how your life has been impacted by COVID-19.
  • Take photos: empty shelves in stores; signs and notifications; people in PPE; finished projects at home; examples of social distancing; empty venues
  • Media reactions: Write or record your reactions to the latest news 
  • Daily logs: Write in your daily thoughts on the pandemic. Submit every day.
  • Businesses: Messages and notices to from Prince George businesses to customers
  • Screenshots of your social media posts
  • Document life at home with your family
  • Draw / paint / sculpt artwork reflecting the current situation
  • Compose music or sing a relevant song
  • Create a meme about the virus - Prince George or BC focus

Examples of COVID-19 Historical Documentation

"20/20 Distance: A COVID-19 Digital Archive". Southwestern University Special Collections & Archives. https://2020distance.omeka.net/
 
“Foxfire COVID-19 Oral History Project,” https://www.foxfire.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Foxfire-COVID-19-Oral-History-Project_-Description.pdf.
 
“Help Capture History: Documenting COVID-19.” Southwest Seattle Historical Society - Log House Museum.               https://www.loghousemuseum.org/blog/help-capture-history-documenting-covid-19/.
 
“Documenting COVID-19 in Niagara · Brock University Library.” https://exhibits.library.brocku.ca/s/COVID-Niagara/page/home.
 
"Due to COVID-19: Documenting signs of the pandemic." https://duetocovid19.com/
 
Society of American Archivists. "Documenting in Times of Crisis: A Resource Kit". https://www2.archivists.org/advocacy/documenting-in-times-of-crisis-a-resource-kit
 
“Share Your Story.” CMHR.  https://humanrights.ca/node/913.