Glen Foerd-HFU Speaker Series: Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918–19 in Philadelphia

What happens when disease strikes a city of two million people, sickening half a million and killing more than 12,000 in just six weeks and 16,000 in six months? During the fall of 1918, influenza casualties overwhelmed Philadelphia’s hospitals.

On Thursday, March 21 at 7 pm in the ETC Auditorium, join Robert D. Hicks, PhD, Director of the Mütter Museum, who will discuss the influenza pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia.

In 2019, the Mütter Museum will open the exhibition “Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918–19 in Philadelphia” about the virus that killed more people globally than both World Wars combined, and devastated Philadelphia over a few short months. Hicks, in an illustrated presentation, will discuss the flu pandemic in Philadelphia and preview the new exhibition.

"Like many Americans, I have a personal connection to the terrible flu pandemic, a grand-aunt who died at a young age, leaving behind her husband and an infant son,” said Dr. Mary Carroll Johansen, History Professor for the School of Arts and Sciences. “It will be fascinating to hear more about this deadly event in world history. I hope the evening will be of interest not just to history lovers, but also to health care workers who would like to learn about the heroic work done by their predecessors, at much risk to their own lives." 

Glen Foerd, first established in the mid-nineteenth century by Charles Macalester and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is the last surviving riverfront estate in Philadelphia.

The lecture is part of the Glen Foerd-Holy Family University Speaker Series that showcases topics of area cultural and historical interest. The series invites a distinguished speaker to Holy Family University each semester for a lecture on a topic in American history from the War of 1812 through the early 20th century, which is the period of time interpreted by Glen Foerd on the Delaware, the historic house museum located a few blocks from campus.

All lectures are free and open to the public.