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FLASHBACK: A Young Man’s Disease

FLASHBACK: A Young Man’s Disease

  • June 9, 2021

Moody students somehow avoided the first wave of influenza when it rolled through Chicago in 1918. Students in the Home Nursing class found practical ways to use their new skills. Many spent their afternoons serving soup and sandwiches to stricken families at Mercy Center settlement houses. “I marvel at the endurance of these young girls. I can attribute it to nothing but the prayers of the friends at the Institute. That is what has carried us through this fearful time,” said Miss Histed, the superintendent. “We could never have gotten along without the Institute women. They have done wonderful work.”

Then came the backlash, a second wave worse than the first, forcing the Evening School to shut down at the end of 1918. Students were restricted to campus for the better part of a year, with quarantined rooms marked by a white handkerchief tied to the doorknob. Ten days before the 1920 Founder’s Week, organizers called it off, the only time the event was ever canceled. The Christian Worker’s Magazine called the flu “a young man’s disease,” where “thousands upon thousands of the soldiers had been attacked and thousands of them had died—the flower of the youth of the world.” The results could be measured by the obituaries—dozens of Moody graduates dying before they turned 30. When it was over, 8,500 Chicagoans had died, part of a global pandemic that killed 50 million. Campus life slowly returned to normal, resuming a full class schedule by the fall of 1920.