Just over a century ago, the world was gripped by the pneumonic influenza pandemic. In 1918 the virus, then known as the Spanish ‘flu, raged through military camps of ally and enemy alike and continued to strike down soldiers and civilians through the Armistice celebrations and into the new year of 1919. Highly contagious and virulent, the death rate was highest amongst young healthy people aged 20-40 years old. There was no vaccine and no antibiotics to treat patients. The only way to limit the spread of the virus was through quarantine, isolation, good personal hygiene, and suspending all public gatherings. In 2020, the same measures have been in place to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Our speaker, Elise Edmonds is a senior curator at the State Library of New South Wales. With a background in Australian history and Museum Studies, Elise has worked with the Library’s maps, pictures and manuscript collections; acquiring, writing and promoting these to a variety of audiences. In 2009 she received a staff fellowship to research and scope the Library’s First World War collections. This led to curating three exhibitions highlighting the Library’s nationally significant First World War collections. In 2019 she curated an audio exhibition, Dead Central which told the story of the old Devonshire street cemetery, along with a companion podcast series called The Burial Files.
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