‘Remembering the Forgotten Pandemic’: Student exhibit examines 1918 Spanish Flu

MOORHEAD, Minn. (KVRR) – Wednesday marked opening night for a new exhibit examining the Spanish Flu and the lives it took in the Red River Valley.

Behind a glass case at the Hjemkomst Center, diaries, letters and newspapers show calls for quarantines, face masks and business closures across the Red River Valley.

“With COVID-19 going on at the moment, you often look back at history for answers and kind of perspective on what’s going on now,” said NDSU graduate student Oliver West Sime.

The exhibit titled “Remembering the Forgotten Pandemic” is a product of Dr. Angela Smith’s Museum Studies class at NDSU this spring.

The group decided to take a look at the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which killed 50 million people worldwide, to see how we can recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re bringing forth the historical knowledge of the Spanish Flu in the F-M area and see how the public reacted to that, how the schools reacted to that, how the White Earth Reservation reacted to that,” explained Sime.

“One thing we found out is that it tended to hit rural areas really hard,” said NDSU undergraduate student Tatum Hoff. “For some reason people from rural areas tended to die more from the flu than any other.”

One recollection shared in the 1970s is from a farmer’s son in the Red River Valley.

He was just a boy when he came down with the flu.

“It must’ve been pretty scary that he got it,” said Hoff. “Also, he said the doctor recommended that he try to cure the flu with just alcohol.”

Although treatments certainly differ these days, the similarities between the two pandemics are striking.

And although many unknowns remain, the students say one thing is certain. “Knowledge is power in a time like this,” Hoff emphasized.

The exhibit will be open through August 30th and there is no charge for admission.

Categories: Community, Coronavirus-MN, Coronavirus-ND, Local News