1918 Flu at Colorado College

Here we are in April of 2020, undergoing a global pandemic, with Colorado College students distance-learning, and CC faculty and staff mostly working from home. Naturally, I’ve been getting some questions (via email) about the closest thing we have to a parallel situation in CC’s history, the 1918 flu pandemic.

We learn from Robert Loevy’s 1999 book Colorado College: A Place of Learning (p. 111):

“In the fall of 1918 an influenza epidemic swept the United States, and Colorado College was not spared. Eight of the young men in the Army radio school died in one month, and a young instructor in Physics, William W. Crawford, also succumbed to the disease. The College was quarantined by the local Health Department, classes were suspended, and Ticknor Hall was converted into an infirmary for the large numbers of ailing military personnel. … The influenza quarantine was lifted on December 13, 1918, and classes quickly resumed.”

The Colorado College student newspaper of the time, the Tiger, is digitized and freely available here:  https://archive.org/details/tigerstudentnews21colo/page/n5/mode/2up. The front page of the October 4, 1918 issue has this headline: “No Necessity for Closing Classes Yet.” The December 6 issue of the Tiger, however, states that classes closed on October 4. Presumably, then, the paper came out just as the situation changed drastically.

The October 11 Tiger has “Epidemic of Influenza is Practically Arrested,” and in the weeks following, headlines include “Epidemic of Influenza Slowly Losing its Grip,” “Only 18 Patients Left in Hospital in Ticknor Hall,” and “Radio School to Re-Open Monday Morning.” These cheery headlines hide the fact, revealed in the issue of December 8, that by October 5, five men in the SATC (Students’ Army Training Corps) had died, with more to come. Additional influenza outbreaks occurred in the winter and spring, with somewhat less-severe quarantine restrictions and no further deaths at CC.

Reading through the 1918 paper, I found similar instructions to today’s. People aren’t to gather in large groups; if you are sick, you’re to stay home. The October 15 issue recommends the use of a mask with this rhyme: “Cover up each cough and sneeze, / If you don’t you’ll spread disease.”

There’s also evidence of dark humor: the October 18 issue contains this rueful aside under the headline “I Beg Your Pardon, Sir”: “We understand that we missed the chance of a life-time in the last Tiger by not having one of the prominent headlines read thusly: EPIDEMIC OF INFLUENZA LOSES ITS GRIPPE. Perhaps so, but we quit calling it the grippe after the second funeral.”

Not all the men who died are identified in the student newspaper, but I found these names: William W. Crawford, Private Carey, Private Leland James, Abe Chayuten, and Private A. F. Kerns.

I’ll end with the paper’s gratitude for the work of medical staff, from the October 18 issue:

“Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon Mrs. Weinshausen and Mr. Hartog, who, with their corps of nurses and assistants so defeated this menace threatening the health and life of every
soldier in the unit. Considering the fact that fully 200 patients were treated, the mortality rate was unusually light. As soon as the hospital was well organized, all men having the least symptom of the influenza were cared for until completely cured. It is due to this fact that the disease was so successfully and completely checked in a comparative short time.”

busy times in Special Collections

Starting in 2015, Jamal Ratchford (“Dr. J.” to his students) has invited-slash-required his classes to visit the Archives to research race and racism at Colorado College.  It’s always exciting to have a room full of students working on related topics, and I particularly enjoy witnessing the way the students in these classes help each other find resources and talk about them. In Block 3 of this school year, November 2019, 23 students in “Introduction to the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity” were in and out of our reading room almost every day, and at the end of the block we had a TON of reshelving to do, so much that I snapped a photo:

Of course, what I really SHOULD have done is capture a photo of the STUDENTS, but my staff and I were so busy helping them that I never thought to do it!


Addendum: Dr. J provided two photos:


Divya Victor’s new book from the Press at Colorado College

Divya Victor, author of CURB, the newest book from the Press at Colorado College, visited campus last week to give a reading. Special Collections hosted Victor, printer Aaron Cohick, and Natanya Pulley’s Diverse Voices / Diverse Forms class for an advance preview of the book and a special small-group talk with the author.

CURB documents the assault and killing of Indian-Americans and Indian immigrants in public spaces in the United States. It will be for sale this fall.


It’s a truly jaw-dropping achievement from the Press.

Overheard in the reading room at this moment: “There’s books in this book!”

Useful Tips to Keep You Out of the Asylum

In blocks 7 and 8, two Colorado College classes (Tomi Ann Roberts’s Feminist Psychology of Embodiment and Tricia Waters’s Women and Madness) visited Special Collections to view our mini-exhibition, Books About Sex. (Subtitle: “These books may be about sex, but we can’t promise you will find them sexy”).  In addition to the materials in the display, students looked at 16th-century-and-forward health manuals such as the two described here, annual reports of the the Colorado State Hospital, 20th century books on how to please your husband, Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood pamphlets, and more.

Students imagined what they would highlight if they were doing their own exhibitions. One student noticed that some women, but never any men, were admitted to the then-named Colorado Insane Asylum in the 19th century because of “domestic trouble.” Another student looked for what we would now call “consent” in Marabel Morgan’s 1973 advice book The Total Woman. Yet another student pointed out that the women in the exercise illustrations in Sex Revelations and the New Eugenics (1936) wore high heeled shoes and very little else. We all appreciated the “Remedy for Hysterics (or Mother-Fits)” in John Homan’s 1856 Long Lost Friend: A Compendium of Mysterious & Invaluable Arts & Remedies, which involves pressing one’s thumb against one’s chest and reciting “Matrix, patrix, lay thyself right and safe…”

A possible title for the classes’ imaginary exhibitions emerged: “Useful Tips to Keep You Out of the Asylum.”


People from 100 years ago … they’re just like us!

We recently acquired a photograph album showing a large farming and ranching family in Estes Park, Colorado, ca. 1905-1915. We know the names of three brothers: Stuart, Gordon, and Charles Mace. Also pictured in the album are the wives and children of the Maces.

People from 100 years ago … they’re just like us!

They go for horsey rides!


They like cute bunnies!


When they take a bath in a bucket, they get their picture taken!


They … oh, no. Don’t do THAT…


Hat tip to Us Magazine’s Stars: They’re Just Like Us

Mini-Exhibition: Feminist Lesbian Science Fiction

We invite you to enjoy a new mini-exhibition in the display case in the garden level of Tutt Library: Ten Great Reads from the Feminist Lesbian Sci-Fi Boom of the 1970s: Sandra Gail Lambert Picks Her Favorites from an Unsung Genre.

Read Lambert’s article here: https://lithub.com/10-great-reads-from-the-feminist-lesbian-sci-fi-boom-of-the-1970s/

The Colorado College library now has every book mentioned in this article. Some have truly fantastic pulp paperback covers. Here’s an example:

LGBT Oral History Project

The Colorado College LGBT Oral History Project is now up and running in Digital CC!

The project includes audio recordings of interviews with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and allied Colorado College faculty, staff, and alumni, along with Colorado Springs community participants. The interviews were done between January 2011 and May 2012. The founding director of the project was Andrew Wallace, CC class of 2012.

Participants in the project include, in alphabetical order, Rob Adkisson (CC class of 1992), Nate Bower (CC Chemistry faculty 1977-2017), Bruce Coriell (CC Chaplain 1988-2016), Mike Edmonds (CC Dean of Students 1991-present), Heinz Geppert (CC German faculty 1991-2013, Karl Jeffries (CC class of 1991), Bruce Loeffler (CC Geology faculty 1977-1999), Eva McGeehan (co-founder of the Colorado Springs chapter of PFLAG), Ginger Morgan (CC staff 1987-2012), and Frank Mosher (CC class of 1969; CC staff 1987-present).

Subjects including: coming out, Out and About (this Colorado College organization, founded 1985, became the LGBT Alliance), Amendment 2, homophobia, discrimination, HIV and AIDS, gay rights, same-sex marriage, and the 1991 founding of the Colorado Springs chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

We hope eventually to offer transcriptions of the interviews. Please contact Jessy Randall (jrandall@coloradocollege.edu) if you’d like to volunteer to transcribe.

Homecoming gifts

Every year at Homecoming, Special Collections holds an open house. This year our open house yielded not one but two amazing photograph donations.

Melinda Eager Poole (CC class of 1978) donated a scrapbook belonging to her grandfather, Leonard Prentice Eager. The scrapbook covers his freshman and sophomore years at CC, 1912-1914. It’s full of photographs of CC students in outdoor areas around Colorado Springs, including this one showing a dozen or so people perched on a railroad bridge, possibly the Pikes Peak Cog Rail.

David Ford (CC class of 1972) was a photographer for the Nugget during his senior year. He donated about a hundred photos from that period, including many portraits and campus scenes. Here are just two fantastic shots from his donation:

Thank you, Melinda and David — you make my job easy and fun!

never before seen photo: trail to Helen Hunt Jackson’s grave

We are fairly certain this is the first online appearance of a photograph labeled “Trail to H.H. Grave,” numbered 642, Hook Photo. The date is likely 1890.

Writer and activist Helen Hunt Jackson (known in her lifetime as H.H., Helen Hunt, or Helen Jackson) died in 1885. She was buried in South Cheyenne Canyon, but so many people visited the site that her grave was moved to Evergreen Cemetery in 1891. The address for W.E. Hook on the back of photo is 509 N Tejon, Colorado Springs, Colorado, an address first used in 1890.

The photograph is a recent gift of Alan Campbell, former Colorado College Psychology staff. As far as we can tell, no other institution holds a print of this image.

Citation: Colorado Room Photo File for Helen Hunt Jackson, Colorado College Special Collections.

Ellsworth Mason quote

Researching something else, I came across this quote from former CC librarian Ellsworth Mason. He’s talking to a potential donor about the library’s nascent rare book collection:

“[Rare books on display] help involve undergraduates emotionally with books, and this, I am convinced, is the basis of the entire educational process.”

Source: Ellsworth Mason letter to Horace Eames Day, August 24, 1959, in Colorado College Special Collections office gift file for Horace Eames Day.