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History of Pandemics

Pandemics have occured throughout human history. This guide will provide links to information about the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, past pandemics, the science behind containment, and the human response.

Online Sources, General Plague

Contagion - Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics  The  digital library collection that brings a unique set of resources from Harvard’s libraries to Internet users everywhere. Offering valuable insights to students of the history of medicine and to researchers seeking an historical context for current epidemiology, the collection contributes to the understanding of the global, social–history, and public–policy implications of disease. Contagion is also a unique social–history resource for students of many ages and disciplines."

Epidemics - Wellcome Image Library

Global Health Chronicles  The Global Health Chronicles is a collection of materials on public health efforts to prevent, control and eradicate global disease. A collaboration between the David J. Sencer CDC Museum at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Emory University, the site was designed for a range of users, from casual readers to serious researchers. Users may access new and rarely-seen materials through this searchable database.

National Library of Medicine Digital Projects

Rare books on plague, smallpox and epidemiology  The Rare Book Collection consists largely of documentation acquired by the OIHP on epidemics included in the International Sanitary Conventions such as: plague, cholera and yellow fever. Materials covering smallpox, malaria and other diseases prevalent at the beginning of the XX century, are also included. Our oldest book on plague dates from 1507 while our oldest treatise on epidemiology was published in 1518."

Global Health Observatory (GHO) The Global Health Observatory (GHO) is WHO's portal providing access to data and analyses for monitoring the global health situation. It provides critical data and analyses for key health themes, as well as direct access to the full database. The GHO presents data from all WHO programs and provides links to supporting information.

1918 Pandemic

1918 Pandemic Influenza Survivors Share Their Stories  Ann Brantley, Hazard Vulnerability Analysis Nurse Coordinator of the Center for Emergency Preparedness, interviewed several pandemic influenza survivors for a historical perspective on this devastating event in world history.

The Deadly Virus: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918  An exhibit of items related to the 1918 epidemic from the National Archives.

Influenza Encyclopedia: The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919  Influenza Encyclopedia has become the Internet repository for historical documents on the American influenza pandemic of 1918-1919."
Produced by the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library University Publications Collection."

Influenza of 1918 (Spanish Flu) and the US Navy  An online exhibit provided by the Navy Department Library that includes documents and photos as well as other information.

Pandemic Influenza Storybook  The CDC’s Pandemic Flu Storybook provides readers with a look at the impact pandemic flu events have had on both survivors and the families and friends of non-survivors. These stories are not folklore, but personal recollections. This collection of stories was first released in 2008 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic."

COVID 19 Resources

A Journal of the Plague Year, Stories from COVID 19, a project led by ASU

 MUSE in Focus: Contextualizing Pandemic  As the modern world faces an unprecedented crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to put into context each day’s events and how they will reverberate for years to come. Over the last few weeks, Project MUSE has been working closely with participating non-profit publishers who have graciously offered to make their scholarly content temporarily available for free on our platform. We are amazed at the depth and breadth of interdisciplinary content that is now free to read for anyone who visits Project MUSE. “MUSE in Focus: Contextualizing Pandemic” is a small sampling of temporarily free scholarship from Project MUSE publishers on the broad topic of pandemic and its effects throughout history, in culture, and on humanity as a whole. We hope that bringing these pieces together will help to bring historical and cultural context to the current crisis, so that we may look to the knowledge of the past to guide us forward.We envision this cross section as a place for scholars and generally interested readers alike to begin learning more. We also encourage readers to explore Project MUSE for additional relevant content.

Wiley Covid-19: Novel Coronavirus Content Free to Access  Link to journal articles (filter by 'Books' to see book chapters

LitCovid is a curated literature hub for tracking up-to-date scientific information about the 2019 novel Coronavirus   LitCovid is a curated literature hub for tracking up-to-date scientific information about the 2019 novel Coronavirus. It is the most comprehensive resource on the subject, providing a central access to 1528 (and growing) relevant articles in PubMed. The articles are updated daily and are further categorized by different research topics and geographic locations for improved access. You can read more at Chen et al. Nature (2020)

JAMA Network - COVID-19   Browse the JAMA Network COVID-19 collection below, including Q&A's with NIAID's Anthony Fauci, an interactive map of the outbreak courtesy of The Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and past publications on vaccine development, infection control, and public health preparedness.

Brill COVID-19 Collection
More than 30 leading STM publishers have committed to making all of their COVID-19 and coronavirus-related publications immediately accessible. At Brill we have opened up books and articles on topics such as public health, distance learning, crisis research. If any new related content is published with us, it will be added to this collection.

American Society for Microbiology COVID-19 Resources  Background: A new strain of coronavirus causing pneumonia-like symptoms was recently identified in Wuhan, China, marking the beginning of the spread of the virus across the globe. Coronaviruses (CoV), so named for their “crown-like” appearance, are a large family of viruses that spread from animals to humans and include diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Researchers have now confirmed that the virus can spread via human-to-human transmission, though the original source of the virus has not been identified. Unlike other coronaviruses, COVID-19 has a much larger global spread and has infected more individuals than SARS and MERS combined.

CDC - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 Information

Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center

As a new strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads across the globe, so does disinformation and misinformation. Follow the spread of this dangerous information with NewsGuard’s new Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center.
Listed below are all the news and information sites in the U.S., the U.K., France, Italy, and Germany that we have identified — 149 so far — as publishing materially false information about the virus. You’ll find websites that are notorious for publishing false health content, and political sites whose embrace of conspiracy theories extends well beyond politics. Among the hoaxes these sites publish are that swallowing bleach or colloidal silver will prevent the coronavirus — when in fact these “treatments” can be harmful. Troublingly, you’ll also see some sites that generally stick to the facts but in this case have published unvetted, poorly sourced stories that turned out to be false.

FEMA Coronavirus Rumor Control

The purpose of this FEMA page is to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Rumors can easily circulate within communities during a crisis. Do your part to the stop the spread of disinformation by doing 3 easy things; don’t believe the rumors, don’t pass them along and go to trusted sources of information to get the facts about the federal (COVID-19) response.

Historic Plagues

Bubonic Plague

Alfani, Guido. “The Effects of Plague on the Distribution of Property: Ivrea, Northern Italy 1630.” Population Studies 64, no. 1 (2010): 61–75.

Guido Alfani, Plague in seventeenth-century Europe and the decline of Italy: an epidemiological hypothesis, European Review of Economic History, Volume 17, Issue 4, November 2013, Pages 408–430,

McEvedy, Colin.The Bubonic Plague.  Scientific American, vol. 258, no. 2, 1988, pp. 118-123., . Accessed 26 Aug. 2020

London Plague of 1665

General Historic Plague Information

From Black Death to Flu, People on the Margins Suffer More

Pandemics and Income Redistribution: a interview with a Stanford Historian

Infectious Historians: Podcasts on Pandemcis

"Longer-Run Economic Consequences of Pandemics"  A working paper from Dr. Sanjay Singh, Assistant Professor of Economics, UC Davis

Lessons from Past Pandemics.