The 2018 National Public Health Week (April 2-8) is celebrated under the shadow of an especially severe influenza season that has already caused 253 deaths in North Carolina (1 October 2017 through 24 February 2018). Fortunately, it is not nearly so devastating as the 1918-1919 “Spanish” flu pandemic that killed 341 people in Mecklenburg county alone in October 1918 and 6,152 North Carolina residents in that same month, according to local UNC Charlotte expert Lauren A. Austin.
The 100-year anniversary of that public health disaster makes us want to learn more about the history of public health in the Charlotte region. “The Legacy of Public Health in Our Region” exhibit, opening April 2, explores local public health practice and organization from 1900 into the 1970s. The five glass cases contain materials illustrating the variety of concerns that public health must address, often simultaneously. These themes are “Epidemics and Vaccination,” “Sanitary Conditions and Mills,” “Mother and Child Care—Public Health Nursing,” and “Local Public Health Heroes.” The fifth case presents a poster that shows how those public health heroes reached the public.
This exhibition exemplifies how the J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives serves the broader community by documenting and preserving the history and culture of the University and the Charlotte region. The Department of Public Health Sciences and the College of Health and Human Services at UNC Charlotte provide leadership every year in celebrating National Public Health Week.
Sources: NC Division of Public Health, “NC Weekly Influenza Surveillance Summary, 2017-2018 Influenza Season, Week O8: Ending February 24, 2018,” accessed @ flu.nc.gov/data/documents/flu; Public Policy PhD Candidate Lauren A. Austin, personal communication; J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, “Our Mission,” accessed @ https://specialcollections.uncc.edu/atkins/aboutspecialcollections.