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“The Ambulances Are Running in Every Direction”: A Patient's Experience of Influenza in a Military Camp, 1918

“The Ambulances Are Running in Every Direction”: A Patient's Experience of Influenza in a... NOTESANDDOCUMENTS “TheAmbulancesAreRunninginEvery Direction”:APatient’sExperienceofInfluenza inaMilitaryCamp,1918 JanetGolden RutgersUniversity Camden Twenty-one-year-old Corporal Alton W. Miller died of pneumonia following influenza in the base hospital at Camp Zachary Taylor, in Louisville, Ken- tucky,onOctober11,1918.HewasoneofmorethanamillionArmymento contract influenza prior to going overseas and one of 43,000 men in uniform to die.¹ What makes his death remarkable is its documentation. His family keptascrapbookwithtypedtranscriptionsofhislettersrecountinghisillness and,afterhisdeath,aletterreportingonhislasthours.Anunidentifiednurse, present at the death of Miller, portrayed the efforts made to save his life and conveyedthedetailsofhisdeathtohisclosefriend.² ThecollectionoflettersfromMillerandfromothermeninuniformpro- videsacompellingportraitofthelivedexperienceofinfluenzaatatimewhen there were no effective means of prevention and limited treatments for this massiveandseeminglyunstoppablediseaseoutbreak.Theynotonlydetailthe caregiventopatientsandthedemiseofCorporalMillerandothers,theyalso serve to remind us of how influenza mortality in the early twentieth century was explained in medical terms while comfort to the bereaved often came through religious expressions. The germ theory transformed medical practice intheearlytwentiethcenturybutitdidnotchangethewaydeathwasunder- stood. NursingHistoryReview28(2020): 185–195. APublicationoftheAmericanAssociationfortheHistory ofNursing. Copyright©2020SpringerPublishingCompany. http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/1062-8061.28.185 Pdf_Folio:185 186 JanetGolden Large-scale studies of the 1918 1919 pandemic reveal the enormity of sickness and loss, with an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide and 650,000 in the United States. There are scholarly accounts of the epidemic within nations and communities, of the flu’s effects on the course of World WarI,ofitsimpactonpublichealthsystems,andofeffortstohaltthespread of the epidemic.³ Newspaper records, oral histories from survivors, and liter- aryaccountsprovideadditionalinsights.Eyewitnessaccounts,suchastheone presented by Corporal Miller and his http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nursing History Review Springer Publishing

“The Ambulances Are Running in Every Direction”: A Patient's Experience of Influenza in a Military Camp, 1918

Nursing History Review , Volume 28 (1): 11 – Sep 19, 2019

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Springer Publishing
Copyright
© 2020 Springer Publishing Company
ISSN
1062-8061
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1938-1913
DOI
10.1891/1062-8061.28.185
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Abstract

NOTESANDDOCUMENTS “TheAmbulancesAreRunninginEvery Direction”:APatient’sExperienceofInfluenza inaMilitaryCamp,1918 JanetGolden RutgersUniversity Camden Twenty-one-year-old Corporal Alton W. Miller died of pneumonia following influenza in the base hospital at Camp Zachary Taylor, in Louisville, Ken- tucky,onOctober11,1918.HewasoneofmorethanamillionArmymento contract influenza prior to going overseas and one of 43,000 men in uniform to die.¹ What makes his death remarkable is its documentation. His family keptascrapbookwithtypedtranscriptionsofhislettersrecountinghisillness and,afterhisdeath,aletterreportingonhislasthours.Anunidentifiednurse, present at the death of Miller, portrayed the efforts made to save his life and conveyedthedetailsofhisdeathtohisclosefriend.² ThecollectionoflettersfromMillerandfromothermeninuniformpro- videsacompellingportraitofthelivedexperienceofinfluenzaatatimewhen there were no effective means of prevention and limited treatments for this massiveandseeminglyunstoppablediseaseoutbreak.Theynotonlydetailthe caregiventopatientsandthedemiseofCorporalMillerandothers,theyalso serve to remind us of how influenza mortality in the early twentieth century was explained in medical terms while comfort to the bereaved often came through religious expressions. The germ theory transformed medical practice intheearlytwentiethcenturybutitdidnotchangethewaydeathwasunder- stood. NursingHistoryReview28(2020): 185–195. APublicationoftheAmericanAssociationfortheHistory ofNursing. Copyright©2020SpringerPublishingCompany. http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/1062-8061.28.185 Pdf_Folio:185 186 JanetGolden Large-scale studies of the 1918 1919 pandemic reveal the enormity of sickness and loss, with an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide and 650,000 in the United States. There are scholarly accounts of the epidemic within nations and communities, of the flu’s effects on the course of World WarI,ofitsimpactonpublichealthsystems,andofeffortstohaltthespread of the epidemic.³ Newspaper records, oral histories from survivors, and liter- aryaccountsprovideadditionalinsights.Eyewitnessaccounts,suchastheone presented by Corporal Miller and his

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Nursing History ReviewSpringer Publishing

Published: Sep 19, 2019

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