Congratulations to UT AMS PhD student Coyote Shook whose graphic essay “Flu in the Arctic: Influenza in Alaska, 1918” was recently featured on the blog of the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (SHGAPE). Coyote’s work kicks off a timely series on the SHGAPE blog that examines “the lived experience of Americans during the 1918 influenza pandemic.”
As Coyote explains, the graphic essay “came from a combination of factors. Janet Davis shared the opportunity to write a post on the SHGAPE blog about the Influenza epidemic with the AMS community just as I was doing research on the Great Race of Mercy and how Balto became a vaudeville star. A big part of that story is that the vast majority of deaths from diphtheria in and around Nome in 1925 were Inuit children. I’d read several articles about how the Influenza epidemic in Alaska had wiped out about 50% of the Indigenous population around Nome, and so I expanded a bit on that research to focus on the absolutely devastating impact the 1918-1919 flu outbreak had on Alaskan Native people. There were obvious overlaps in narrative between Influenza and Covid-19, from the total ineptitude of public health officials to the disproportionate impact of the illness on Indigenous communities, all of which I tried to incorporate into my comics.”
You can find a full PDF of “Flu in the Arctic,” as well as the text with image descriptions, here.