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Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic in Philadelphia

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The Mütter Museum

19 South 22nd Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

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Description

During fall 1918, in the last months of WWI, Philadelphia hosted the largest parade in its history. Within days, all city hospitals were full. In this illustrated presentation, Robert D. Hicks, Director of the Mütter Museum, will discuss the pandemic as a social catastrophe in conjunction with the exhibit.

The Spit Spreads Death Exhibit of the Mütter Museum will be open for this event.


Timeline:
5:30PM-6:30PM Lecture
6:30PM-7:30PM
Spit Spreads Death Exhibit Open and Reception (pretzels & cash bar)

ABOUT the Speaker

Robert D. Hicks, PhD, is the Director of the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He also directs the F. C. Wood Institute and holds the William Maul Measey Chair for the History of Medicine. Formerly, he supervised exhibits, collections, and educational outreach at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. He has worked with museum-based education and exhibits for over three decades, primarily as a consultant to historic sites and museums. This work led Robert to obtain a doctorate in maritime history from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom. Concurrent with the museum consulting, Robert worked for the Commonwealth of Virginia as a senior program manager in criminal justice, providing managerial assistance throughout the state. Earlier, he performed criminal justice work in Arizona, and obtained BA and MA degrees in anthropology and archaeology at the University of Arizona. He also served as a naval officer with the U.S. Naval Security Group.


ABOUT Spit Spreads Death

A century ago, a worldwide health disaster hit home. The influenza pandemic of 1918–19, the global epidemic often called the “Spanish flu,” killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide.

Here in Philadelphia, the Liberty Loan Parade, a patriotic wartime effort on September 28, 1918, helped to spread the disease. Soon, the city was in crisis. Hospitals overflowed and bodies piled up in morgues. Philadelphia had the highest death rate of any major American city during the pandemic. More than 12,000 people died in six weeks; over 20,000 died in six months.

Many of those people died young. Very few were wealthy or famous. Their names are not in history books, but their families did not forget them.

Spit Spreads Death explores how neighborhoods in Philadelphia were impacted, how the disease spread, and what could happen in future pandemics.

Spit Spreads Death is an exhibition and artist project that explores both this devastating historic event and the connections to contemporary health issues. Join us for an exploration that begins before the exhibition opens and will continue throughout the life of the exhibition.


Major support for Spit Spreads Death has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, with additional support from the Groff Family Memorial Trust and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Event registration is non-refundable, but is transferable to other people.

Student and Individual-level Members may purchase one Mütter Member ticket. Dual and Family-level Members may purchase two Mütter Member tickets. To upgrade your membership or if you have membership questions please contact erins@collegeofphysicians.org.

Questions? Email events@collegeofphysicians.org

NOTE: By entering the event premises, you consent to photography, audio recording, video recording and its release, publication, exhibition, or reproduction to be used for news, promotional purposes, advertising, inclusion on websites, social media, or any other purpose by The College of Physicians/The Mütter Museum and its affiliates and representatives.

ASL interpretation is available for any event upon request. Please contact Meredith Sellers msellers@collegeofphysicians.org to place a request for an ASL interpreter or for any other accessibility accommodations.



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Date and Time

Location

The Mütter Museum

19 South 22nd Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

View Map

Refund Policy

No Refunds

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