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Some of the Masks Used During the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic

The 1918 Spanish Flu infected about 1/3 of the world’s population (about 500 million people) and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims. The flu was first detected in Europe, America and parts of Asia before it rapidly spread around the globe. There were no effective medicines or vaccines available to treat the flu strain. People were ordered to wear masks, education, business and entertainment sectors and establishments were closed and bodies heaped up in improvised morgues.

A newspaper clip from January 1919.
University of Oregon (

The following are some of the masks used during the pandemic over 100 years ago:

NSW in 1919 implemented some of the strictest forms of health initiatives such as quarantine, the mandatory use of face masks, and a ban on public events.(Supplied: State Archives And Records NSW)
Face masks as both function and fashion are part of pandemic responses 100 years apart.(Supplied: National Museum Of Australia)
A woman wears a flu mask during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.
Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images;


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