A dark page from the Register’s history

Instead of recognizing the danger of the Spanish Flu of 1918-19 and warning people of protective measures, the U.S. government began churning out 'everything's fine' propaganda. And U.S. newspapers were complicit.



May 15, 2020 - 3:48 PM

An unidentified family covering up during the 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic.

A hundred years ago, I’m guessing a few Iolans had threatened among themselves to tar and feather Dr. J.S. Sutcliffe, the Allen County Health Officer, who had the authority to determine how long the county would remain in lockdown to ward off the Spanish flu. 

Just as the numbers would appear to ebb, they’d spike up again. Nine cases one day, 50 the next, forcing Dr. Sutcliffe to be the bad guy as the stubborn virus held on week after week. 

Dr. Sutcliffe was not only battling a virulent bug, but also a U.S. Government that had a war to fight. The last thing Uncle Sam wanted was a dispirited country. 

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