“Afraid to Breathe”: Understanding North Carolina’s Experience of the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic at the State, Local, and Individual Levels
1 online resource (295 pages) : PDF
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
This dissertation is the first comprehensive, detailed study of a single state’s experience of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic at state, local and county, and individual levels. Its two articles provide quantitative analyses of a unique new statewide database and traditional historical narrative integrating institutional action and individual experience. Article 1, a quantitative examination of all death certificates (N=11,836) for October 1918 and March 1919 and the 1920 Census (N=2,561,959), employed multinomial logistic regressions, OLS regressions, and ArcGIS mapping. Results (p≤ 0.05): Singles were less likely to die of flu than marrieds but more likely to die of all other causes; blacks were more likely to die from flu than whites; black subgroups received less treatment than whites; children received less treatment than other age groups; Tidewater and Coastal Plain regions had greater standardized mortality while the Mountains, less than other regions. Findings confirmed literature reporting lower death rates among elderly, but not lower black mortality nor higher rates in manufacturing centers. Epidemiological evidence suggested flu virus mutations by March 1919. Article 2, a qualitative account of people’s experience, used government archives, newspapers, and letters. Results: A growing desensitization — or "inurement" — to the epidemic as early as October 1918, due to government downplaying its seriousness and emphasizing the war effort, officials instructing the public to remain calm and maintain normality, businessmen wanting to restore sales, and boredom with quarantine measures.
HistoryPublic healthGovernment policy
1918 Influenza EpidemicNorth CarolinaPublic HealthQualitative AnalysisQuantitative Analysis
Wilson, MarkSabol, StevenLaditka, James
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2018.
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