"Better off in school": School medical inspection as a public health strategy during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic in the United States

Public Health Rep. 2010 Apr;125 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):63-70. doi: 10.1177/00333549101250S309.


During the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic in the United States, most cities responded by implementing community mitigation strategies, such as school closure. However, three cities--New York City, Chicago, and New Haven, Connecticut--diverged from the dominant pattern by keeping their public schools open while the pandemic raged. This article situates the experiences of these three cities in the broader context of the Progressive era, when officials and experts put great faith in expanding public programs in health and education. It adds an important dimension to the historical understanding of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic and offers lessons for public health practitioners and policymakers today who might face difficult decisions about how to respond to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Disease Outbreaks / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Hygiene / history
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology
  • Influenza, Human / history*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • School Health Services / history*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Population / history*