About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
March 5, 2019 

Good afternoon. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us today, whether you are here in the William G. McGowan Theater or joining us through Facebook or YouTube.

Before we hear from Dr. Jeremy Brown about his new book Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History, I’d like to tell you about two other programs happening this month in the McGowan Theater.

On Friday, March 8, at noon, Tina Cassidy will talk about her new book, Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait? which explores the complex relationship between notable suffragist Alice Paul and President Woodrow Wilson.

And on Monday, March 18, at noon, Jessie Morgan-Owens tells the story of a photograph that transformed history in her book, Girl in Black and White: The Story of Mary Mildred Williams and the Abolition Movement.

Check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Visit its website—archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about the Foundation and how to join online.

Last November we marked the centennial of the end of World War I. In November 1918, the people of the combatant nations felt relief that the years of warfare and death were over. Yet another threat to life was reaching across those nations into homes and schools and hospitals: the flu. The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed more people worldwide than were killed in combat during the war.

Many records housed in the National Archives - here in the Washington area and in our many field locations - document this outbreak in the United States. Letters, reports, patient record books, telegrams, and photographs show the reach of the 1918 influenza epidemic to all parts of the nation.

These records open a window onto the world of 101 years ago and show us the human and societal costs of the pandemic. They allow us not only to look back at that time, but perhaps also look ahead, as the information they contain may help guide present-day inquiries and increase our understanding of the disease.

Dr. Jeremy Brown is an emergency physician and was the Research Director in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. He is now Director of the Office of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Brown is an author of more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and three books, including the Oxford American Handbook of Emergency Medicine and a handbook on cardiology emergencies. He recently received an NIH Director’s Award for his efforts supporting research into non-addicting methods of pain relief.  

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dr. Jeremy Brown.