These seldom seen photographs, colorized for the first time, graphically depict the scale of the pandemic. The images reveal how doctors and nurses fought to save Spanish Flu sufferers in 1918. They show community centers and sports halls in the US converted into makeshift hospitals for the sick, while cinemas were closed and people wore face masks when they went to the park or took public transport.
“I have been colorizing for a long time as a hobby, which I started by coloring pictures for my family and friends, but my passion has grown into almost an obsession,” the colorizer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said in an interview. “It’s been over one-hundred years since the Spanish flu happened and I thought it was important to remember the millions of people who lost their lives.”
The disease, which broke out after the First World War, spread quickly and ravaged the globe, claiming between 20 million and 50 million lives.
A Kansas hospital during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 that still lives large in people’s imaginations.
Hospital beds crammed head to toe at the San Francisco Naval Training Station. They are occupied by soldiers.
Theatres and public spaces were shut down to help prevent the virus spreading in the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918.
A mask is worn by a street sweeper in New York in 1918. The admonition of the New York Health Board to wear masks to check the spread of influenza epidemic was: ‘Better ridiculous than dead’.
A conductor checks to see if potential passengers are wearing required masks in Seattle, 1918.