WESTWOOD HISTORICAL SOCIETY- The 100th Anniversary of the “Spanish Flu”

Virtual Event

Feb 9

Tue 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

The Westwood Historical Society – in collaboration with the Westwood Public Library – will be hosting Anthony M. Sammarco as our speaker. A noted author and historian, he will talk about the Boston of 1918 and the disease that decimated the world population at that time – relating it to today’s Covid-19 epidemic.

“Unless precautions are taken, the disease, in all probability, will spread to the civilian population of the city” wrote Dr. John Hitchcock, the head of the communicable disease section of the Massachusetts State Department of Health in a circular to local health officials. The disease of which he wrote in 1918 was influenza, felling sailors aboard the Receiving Ship at Boston’s Commonwealth Pier at the time. Within weeks, Boston was in the grip of the “Spanish Flu” that began by affecting residents of Massachusetts and then became a world-wide pandemic. On September 25, 1918, Mayor Andrew Peter’s Emergency Committee recommended that not just schools but all places of public amusement (e.g., theaters, movie houses, concert halls, lodges, concerts halls, etc.) be closed indefinitely. Places of worship were closed and still, people from all walks of life were affected. Sound familiar?



Anthony Sammarco is a noted author and historian. He has lectured at the Boston Athenaeum and the Victorian Society/New England Chapter – and many items from his personal collection have gone to local archives. His books include: Boston’s Back Bay in the Victorian Era, Boston’s Immigrants, Howard Johnson’s: How a Massachusetts Soda Fountain Become a Roadside Icon, the Baker Chocolate Company: A Sweet History, and Jordan Marsh: New England’s Largest Store.