Family Photos From The Summer of 1918

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During our current worldwide pandemic I took a look back at a photo album from my family’s archive and saw what one part of the country looked like before the second wave of the Spanish Flu took hold. It looked normal.

4th of July parade, downtown Joliet, IL 1918.

Sometime in the late 1990s I sat down with my grandmother and went through a few old family albums so she could tell me who, what, and where of the images. As a photojournalism student at the time and budding genealogist photo captions were gold to me for historic photos. With the majority of the photos being from around 1918, it could just be a time in my great-grandmother’s life where she liked scrapbooking, but looking at it through the lens of shelter-in-place I’m starting to wonder if a newly married woman who would soon be pregnant with her first child didn’t just have a little extra time as the Spanish Flu spread that fall and people may have stayed more isolated.

Siblings and their spouses hanging out toward the end of the summer of 1918.
My great-grand aunts leaving to visit Great Lakes Naval Base to see their brother. Aside from the Spanish Flu going around in 1918, what I’ve always found shocking about this photo is that they’re still wearing coats 2 days into summer.
4th of July parade 1918 downtown Joliet, IL.
4th of July parade 1918 downtown Joliet, IL.
4th of July parade 1918 downtown Joliet, IL.
Decoration Day May 30th 1918.

I can’t tell anyone what they should take away from this, short of these being a snapshot of life from 1918. I’d prefer you don’t use them as an argument for society being reckless during a pandemic, or use it as visual evidence that people were not wearing masks and some how the Spanish Flu of 1918 is a historical hoax.

In case anyone was wondering, I pulled up the family tree and did a search. Across both of my parent’s families there were no deaths that I know of in 1918, but there were 8 births.