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Announcements, Events, New Releases

Historical photograph of "conductorettes" in masksIn partnership with the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine, we are proud to announce the release of The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918: A Digital Encyclopedia, documenting the experiences of 50 diverse communities in the United States in fall 1918 and winter 1919 when influenza took the lives of an estimated 675,000 Americans. The encyclopedia contains more than 50,000 digitized pages–correspondence, minutes of organization and group meetings, reports from agencies and charities, newspaper accounts, military records, diaries, photographs, and more–along with interpretive materials contributed by scholars of history and public health.

The Center for the History of Medicine is sponsoring a public lecture to celebrate the launch of the digital encyclopedia on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 5PM in the Library Gallery (Room 100) of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library on the University of Michigan campus.

“The digital encyclopedia exhaustively documents the impact of the 1918-1919 influenza epidemic on our nation. This remarkable collection will permit scholars to explore how the 1918-1919 influenza epidemic influenced many communities and sub-communities in the early twentieth-century United States and to understand on a fine-grained level how individuals and society responded to a health crisis of extraordinary magnitude,” says Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D., George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine, and Director, Center for the History of Medicine.

MPublishing worked with the Center for the History of Medicine to create the underlying architecture of the digital encyclopedia, as well as its functionality and user interface. The U-M Library has been leading library digitization and digital publishing since the 1995 “Making of America” project. Its 2004 partnership with Google to digitize its collection laid the groundwork for HathiTrust, an inter-institutional digital library of over ten million volumes, approximately 30% of which are freely available online.

“The digital encyclopedia fits perfectly with MPublishing’s mission to bring together the talents of scholars, publishers, and librarians to create innovative and accessible platforms for the dissemination of information,” says John Wilkin, Associate University Librarian for Publishing at the University of Michigan and Executive Director of HathiTrust. “We are very proud of our role in the development of the first digital collection to document the 1918-1919 flu pandemic, and are especially pleased that this tool, which has broad appeal to those interested in local history, public health, the history of medicine, and many other fields, will be freely available to everyone—from researchers to elementary school students to the general public.”

The digital encyclopedia is the culmination of more than five years of the Center’s ongoing research in collaboration with the Global Migration and Quarantine Division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additional funding was provided by an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The project also received funding as well as a prestigious We the People designation from the National Endowment for the Humanities for its efforts to strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture.

For more information about the project, please contact and follow the project on Twitter at @1918FluArchive.

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