Bethany Johnson

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, University of South Carolina

2022 to 2023
Research Fellow

In the Aftermath of the “Lost” Pandemic: Philadelphia, 1919-1922

The influenza pandemic of 1918-1920 is often described as "lost" or "forgotten" by both scholars and journalists. In Philadelphia, where more than 14,000 residents died between late September and early November, schools, churches, and saloons reopened to eager crowds on October 26th, 1918. Philadelphians died in recurrent waves of influenza after news outlets categorized the pandemic as “over” in late 1918. A lack of collective memorialization around the 1918-1919 pandemic obfuscates the significant impact of the outbreak in the years immediately following the epidemic crisis. By exploring the immediate post-pandemic period, I will reconstruct the window of time during which public works projects, infrastructure development, and benevolent programs in Philadelphia aimed to address the institutional and structural failings highlighted by the crisis in the fall of 1918. "In the Aftermath" explores how one city reemerged from the influenza pandemic and in that process, forgot the terror of 1918.