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Archiving Influenza

The University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine launched a new website in October called "The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919: A Digital Encyclopedia."

As the name suggests, the site is a chronicle of the American experience during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 -- the Spanish flu pandemic -- which killed an estimated 20 to 50 million people worldwide, including about 650,000 in the U.S. Similar to the flu pandemic of 2009, the Spanish flu was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus that disproportionately affected younger populations.

The encyclopedia is comprehensive, collecting primary source material from 50 cities, including newspaper articles, private correspondence, minutes of meetings held by various organizations, reports from agencies and charities, military records, diaries, and photographs. The site contains more than 50,000 digitized pages, according to a press release announcing the launch, and readers can browse them by city or by various categories such as people, places, organizations, publications, or subjects.

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