Since embarking on this project of posting historic magazine articles there is only one matter that truly irked me - and that involved the absolute dearth of articles concerning the Spanish Influenza (February 1918 - April 1920). I have no doubt that the reporters and editors who were writing at the time were all wearing face masks, yet non of them were writing about the reason why (save these two reporters here and here). AND THEN I located this article, written 22 years after the fact - and I was gratified to learn that he, too, found that the articles were scarce. The author in question was Frederick Lewis Allen (1890 - 1954) who is recognized as one of the great chroniclers of the first half of the 20th Century.
"Readers who were grown up in 1918 will recall it, more or less, as a sudden scourge of a particularly virulent form of grippe (known at the time as 'Spanish Influenza') which swept through the country during the last two months of the World War - those months of late September, October and early November, 1918, when the Allied troops were victoriously thrusting the Germans back across the ruined countryside of France and Belgium, when Central European empires were crumbling, when Woodrow Wilson was laying down the inexorable terms of armistice to a frantic German Chancellor and when the American public were wondering if the fighting would be over soon. These readers will remember how friends and office workers were taken ill, how doctors and nurses were overworked (if indeed obtainable at all), how people went around with white cotton masks over their faces. Some readers will remember going home with a high fever and aching bones and a cough, and being warned to stay in bed lest pneuma develop - as it often did."
By the time the virus ran its course, 675,000 Americans would succumb (although this article erroneously estimated the loss at 500,000).
Globally, deaths were believed to be as high as fifty million (Wikipedia).