The Biscayne Times

Aug 15th
Miami and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918, Part III PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul George, BT Contributor   
July 2020

A view of our past from the archives of HistoryMiami

APix_PictureStory_7-20t the height of Miami’s influenza pandemic in October 1918, the city’s overtaxed health-care system received help from other institutions, including the Red Cross, which provided nursing services, while the Women’s Relief Association operated an auxiliary hospital and children’s home. Many caring Miamians volunteered to assist the sick. Among them were some of the city’s “socialites,” the wives of prominent Miamians who volunteered at the beleaguered City Hospital under the direction of trained nurses, and at an emergency hospital for personnel of the Naval Air Station at Dinner Key.

Hospitals lacked the most basic supplies, like blankets and sleeping garments, disinfectants, surgical gauze, and bed pans. Many flu victims who convalesced at home lacked food.

Again, institutions and individuals, as well as businesses, rose to the challenge in filling this critical need. The Red Cross created a soup kitchen, which also provided ice cream! Downtown’s Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church collected food from parishioners to feed the sick. When a hardware store truck transporting patients and supplies broke down, the Miami Grocery Company provided a vehicle.

The pandemic spared no group, bringing death to rich and poor, young and old, white and black. Gardener Butler, age one, was among the victims. Some families were especially hard hit. Sixteen-year-old Edward Kalb and his two older sisters died of the disease. Ivan S. Jaudon (pictured) was just 32 years old and obviously not expecting to die -- he left a sizable estate but no will. The cause of death was always pneumonia following an attack of influenza.

By the end of October 1918, at least 87 Miamians had died from the flu, but the pandemic ended as quickly as it had begun. Halloween celebrations, featuring packs of trick-or-treaters roaming from house to house, parties and dances, erupted throughout the city. The next day, theaters and other businesses opened. On November 11, the city celebrated Armistice Day, marking the end of the Great War. Just as important, the feared recrudescence of the dreaded influenza did not occur.


Paul George is historian at HistoryMiami Museum. To order a copy of this photo, contact HistoryMiami archives manager Ashley Trujillo at 305-375-1623, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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Pix_PictureStory_7-20A view of our past from the archives of HistoryMiami


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