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Histories of the Spanish Flu in Australia 

1-5 June 2020, 7.00 – 7.30 pm

The 1918-19 pneumonic influenza pandemic, or ‘Spanish Flu’ was the most severe pandemic of the 20th Century. It was found to be caused by an H1N1 virus of avian origin and it spread worldwide during 1918-1919.  Although it was named the ‘Spanish Flu’, the virus did not originate in Spain, but it is thought it may have spread to Europe from the USA.

It is thought that approximately 500 million people, or one-third of the world’s population, became infected with this virus, with the number of deaths estimated to be in the vicinity of 50 million . 

The ‘Spanish flu’ arrived in Australia in 1918. About a third of all Australians were infected and nearly 15,000 people died from it.

What were the effects on the Australian community during the Spanish Flu?
How did it spread and how did people cope with what was the most deadly virus of their time? 
What is the evidence left behind that informs histories of the Spanish Flu in Australia?

In our series of talks this week, Historians will explore five different aspects of Australia’s Spanish flu pandemic.

  • Monday: Dr Peter Hobbins will discuss the community histories written about the pneumonic influenza and how they can be of use to us as we face our own pandemic.
  • Tuesday: Dr Lisa Murray will draw upon the rich collections of the City of Sydney Archives to show how the city council acted to control the flu.
  • Wednesday: Laila Ellmoos will share some oral histories of the Spanish flu, reflecting on the nature of memory.
  • Thursday: Dr Kate Ariotti will examine the soldier’s experience of returning to Australia during the pandemic.
  • Friday: A/Prof Nancy Cushing will introduce a little known aspect of the Spanish flu in Australia – a scheme of universal inoculation designed to reduce the deadliness of the disease.

This “In Conversation” series will be facilitated by HCNSW Vice-President, A/Prof Nancy Cushing.

For further information about the History Effect Online Series, please click here.




Bookings for our live events are essential.  Please book via the button at the top of this page, that takes you through to Eventbrite where you can book for one or more of the events at the same time.
We will send you a link to the session one day in advance.
All sessions are currently free of charge.