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16 Haunting Color Pictures Of The 1918 Flu Pandemic

During the 1918 influenza pandemic, it was not uncommon to see store clerks, barbers, pedestrians, and even police equipped with protective face masks.

Posted on July 2, 2020, at 3:46 p.m. ET

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In 1918, a new and severe strain of influenza was making its way across the globe. Within two years later, approximately one-third of the world's population had become infected and more than 50 million people died as a result.

This unique strain of influenza was noted for mostly affecting otherwise healthy adults. In particular, soldiers fighting in close proximity in trenches during World War I were highly susceptible to the illness. As a result, more US soldiers died of the virus than at the hands of enemy soldiers.

In the United States, widespread precautionary measures were taken to help curb the spread of the virus. It was not uncommon to see store clerks, barbers, pedestrians, and police officers equipped with protective face masks. Public spaces were frequently fumigated for disease, and indoor gathering spaces such as courts and churches were temporarily relocated outdoors.

To highlight the similarities between the 1918 pandemic the current state of the coronavirus pandemic, MyHeritage has processed a collection of historic black-and-white pictures with their advanced colorization software to reveal what history looked like in remarkable color.

These colorized pictures from history show how people attempted to control the spread of the devastating 1918 influenza pandemic.

Bettmann / Getty Images

A man has his hair cut by a barber wearing a surgical mask during the pandemic in 1918.

Bettmann / Getty Images

A man has his hair cut by a barber wearing a surgical mask during the pandemic in 1918.

Bettmann / Getty Images

A man has his hair cut by a barber wearing a surgical mask during the pandemic in 1918.

University of Calgary

An informational poster in Alberta, Canada, explains how to make a protective face mask, circa 1918.

University of Calgary

An informational poster in Alberta, Canada, explains how to make a protective face mask, circa 1918.

University of Calgary

An informational poster in Alberta, Canada, explains how to make a protective face mask, circa 1918.

Getty Images

A traffic police officer in New York City wears a cloth mask for protection against influenza on Oct. 16, 1918.

Getty Images

A traffic police officer in New York City wears a cloth mask for protection against influenza on Oct. 16, 1918.

Getty Images

A traffic police officer in New York City wears a cloth mask for protection against influenza on Oct. 16, 1918.

Getty Images

A sign at the Philadelphia Navy Yard warns against influenza and cites 30 deaths on the premises resulting from the illness, circa 1918.

Getty Images

A sign at the Philadelphia Navy Yard warns against influenza and cites 30 deaths on the premises resulting from the illness, circa 1918.

Getty Images

A sign at the Philadelphia Navy Yard warns against influenza and cites 30 deaths on the premises resulting from the illness, circa 1918.

PhotoQuest / Getty Images

The US Army's 39th Regiment marches through the streets of Seattle before deploying to France in 1918. Every soldier was given a mask made by the Seattle chapter of the American Red Cross.

PhotoQuest / Getty Images

The US Army's 39th Regiment marches through the streets of Seattle before deploying to France in 1918. Every soldier was given a mask made by the Seattle chapter of the American Red Cross.

PhotoQuest / Getty Images

The US Army's 39th Regiment marches through the streets of Seattle before deploying to France in 1918. Every soldier was given a mask made by the Seattle chapter of the American Red Cross.

Bettmann / Getty Images

A New York street cleaner wears a mask to work and is quoted as saying, "better be ridiculous than dead," 1918.

Bettmann / Getty Images

A New York street cleaner wears a mask to work and is quoted as saying, "better be ridiculous than dead," 1918.

Bettmann / Getty Images

A New York street cleaner wears a mask to work and is quoted as saying, "better be ridiculous than dead," 1918.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

A church congregation prays on the steps of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco, where they gathered to celebrate Mass during the influenza epidemic in 1918.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

A church congregation prays on the steps of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco, where they gathered to celebrate Mass during the influenza epidemic in 1918.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

A church congregation prays on the steps of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco, where they gathered to celebrate Mass during the influenza epidemic in 1918.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

A court is held in open air in San Francisco, 1918.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

A court is held in open air in San Francisco, 1918.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

A court is held in open air in San Francisco, 1918.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Doctors, Army officers, and reporters wear surgical gowns and masks while taking a tour of a hospital treating influenza patients in 1918.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Doctors, Army officers, and reporters wear surgical gowns and masks while taking a tour of a hospital treating influenza patients in 1918.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Doctors, Army officers, and reporters wear surgical gowns and masks while taking a tour of a hospital treating influenza patients in 1918.

Library of Congress

A nurse takes a patient's pulse in the influenza ward of Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, 1918.

Library of Congress

A nurse takes a patient's pulse in the influenza ward of Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, 1918.

Library of Congress

A nurse takes a patient's pulse in the influenza ward of Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, 1918.

Library of Congress

A Red Cross emergency ambulance station in Washington, DC, during the influenza pandemic of 1918.

Library of Congress

A Red Cross emergency ambulance station in Washington, DC, during the influenza pandemic of 1918.

Library of Congress

A Red Cross emergency ambulance station in Washington, DC, during the influenza pandemic of 1918.

Kirn Vintage Stock / Corbis via Getty Images

An American soldier is covered with a sheet and mask to prevent the flu from spreading, circa 1918.

Kirn Vintage Stock / Corbis via Getty Images

An American soldier is covered with a sheet and mask to prevent the flu from spreading, circa 1918.

Kirn Vintage Stock / Corbis via Getty Images

An American soldier is covered with a sheet and mask to prevent the flu from spreading, circa 1918.

Library of Congress

Members of the St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps prepare for patients, 1918.

Library of Congress

Members of the St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps prepare for patients, 1918.

Library of Congress

Members of the St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps prepare for patients, 1918.

National Library of Medicine

The Influenza ward of a US Army field hospital in Hollerich, Luxembourg, 1918.

National Library of Medicine

The Influenza ward of a US Army field hospital in Hollerich, Luxembourg, 1918.

National Library of Medicine

The Influenza ward of a US Army field hospital in Hollerich, Luxembourg, 1918.

Library of Congress

A community kitchen for influenza patients in Salt Lake City, circa 1918.

Library of Congress

A community kitchen for influenza patients in Salt Lake City, circa 1918.

Library of Congress

A community kitchen for influenza patients in Salt Lake City, circa 1918.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

During an influenza epidemic, volunteers wearing masks feed children of stricken families, 1918.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

During an influenza epidemic, volunteers wearing masks feed children of stricken families, 1918.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

During an influenza epidemic, volunteers wearing masks feed children of stricken families, 1918.


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