The Media and Influenza

The newspapers were supplied daily with information regarding the status of the outbreak.  They advised and warned the public on how to avoid contracting and spreading the disease.  Generally, the tone of the articles was not very serious because it was feared that the people would panic.  Police Chief John H. Alcock threatened that he would supply the local newspapers with the names and addresses of all people arrested for spitting.   Each week the Health Department supplied the newspapers with short articles on how to keep healthy during the epidemic.  The following is an example of a daily press release from the Department of Health:

Special Daily Press Service,
Department of Health
Chicago, October 24,1918

  Influenza Dont's

Don't live in the dark
Don't shut the sunshine out of your home
Don't exclude the fresh air
Don't fail to keep clean
Don't go into crowed places
Don't associate with people who sneeze and cough in your presence
Don't use common towels
Don't fail to practice what you preach
Don't overtax your physical powers.  Cut out evening entertainments.  Be in bed by ten o'clock.
Don't fail to sleep with every window in your bedroom open.
Don't fail to call your doctor for yourself or any other member of your family at the first sign of illness.   Better be safe than sorry.
Don't allow your home to become damp, chilly, or uncomfortable.
Don't fail, if possible, to walk to your work in the morning and to your home at night.  The open air exercise will be of decided benefit.
 Posters were hung at the entrances of theaters, on elevated train platforms (and in the cars themselves), and other various places around the city.  The Department of Health produced lantern slides to be shown in every moving picture theater in Chicago.  These slides warned the public about the danger of sneezing and asked those with colds to leave the theater.  Life in the city was not altered significantly by the extensive warnings because the citizens didn't consider the announcements to be threatening in any way.

This poster was placed in front of Chicago theatres as a general prevention to keep influenza victims out of the building.

This political cartoon was printed in a Chicago newspaper.

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