Photos of the 1918 Flu Pandemic

Between 1918 and 1919, an outbreak of influenza spread rapidly across the world, and killed more than 50 million—and possibly as many as 100 million—people within 15 months. The speed of the pandemic was shocking; the numbers of dead bodies overwhelmed hospitals and cemeteries. Quarantine centers, emergency hospitals, public use of gauze masks, and awareness campaigns were all undertaken swiftly to halt the spread. But as World War I was coming to a close, millions of soldiers were still traveling across the globe, aiding the spread of the disease. While its exact origins are still debated, it’s understood that the “Spanish Flu” did not come from Spain. The name seems to have arisen as reporting about influenza cases was censored in war-affected countries, but Spain was neutral, so frequent stories appeared about the deadly flu in Spain. Gathered here are images from the battle against one of the deadliest events in human history, when the flu killed up to 6 percent of the Earth’s population in just over a year.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • CSNafzger / Shutterstock

    Idaho: Images of the Gem State

    A few glimpses of Idaho’s landscape, and some of the animals and people calling it home

  • Brynn Anderson / AP

    Photos of the Week: Sydney Fog, House Hat, Crow Pursuit

    Skiing in the French Alps, flooding in Michigan, a drive-through burlesque in Las Vegas, disinfecting streets in Buenos Aires, social-distancing rings in Turkey, a fawn rescue in Germany, and much more

  • Elaine Cromie / Getty

    Ramadan 2020: A Holy Month During a Pandemic

    Images from the past month of people observing Ramadan in a changed world

  • Murat Oner Tas / Anadolu Agency / Getty

    A Flamboyance of Flamingos

    An appreciation of flamingos, showing them flap, feed, fly, and flock together