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On this day in history…March 11

on March 11, 2014

On March 11, 1918, what are believed to be the first cases of the 1918 flu epidemic were reported at Fort Riley, Kansas.

Just before breakfast on the morning of March 11, Private Albert Gitchell of the U.S. Army reports to the hospital at Fort Riley, Kansas, complaining of the cold-like symptoms of sore throat, fever and headache. By noon, over 100 of his fellow soldiers had reported similar symptoms, marking what are believed to be the first cases in the historic influenza epidemic of 1918. The flu would eventually kill 675,000 Americans and more than 20 million people (some believe the total may be closer to 40 million) around the world, proving to be a far deadlier force than even the First World War.

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For books about the 1918 influenza epidemic or novels set in a world shaped by the epidemic, check these out…

Marven of the Great North Woods by Kathryn LaskyMarven of the Great North Woods

When the great influenza epidemic strikes Duluth, Minnesota, in 1918, Marven’s parents know they must send their son far away to keep him safe from the disease. So the ten-year-old boards a train headed for a logging camp, not knowing if he will ever see his family again. In the great north woods, Marven finds a new world of towering trees, endless expanses of snow, and lumberjacks as big as grizzly bears. He feels very alone among the enormous woodsmen–until he meets Jean-Louis, the burliest jack of all, and they become fast friends.

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A Doctor Like Papa by Natalie Kinsey-WarnockA doctor like Papa

When the influenza epidemic of 1918 comes to Vermont, eleven-year-old Margaret, who has always wanted to be a physician, finds out what doctoring is like.


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