Courthouse Docket

“This Awful Disease”: The 1918 Flu Epidemic in Camp Fremont and San Mateo County

Roughly 575,000 Americans died in the 1918 influenza epidemic, a global crisis that scientists and historians are still struggling to understand. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the epidemic coincided with America’s World War I mobilization as thousands of Bay Area troops moved into the path of the epidemic on their way to France.

Barbara Wilcox, author of World War I Army Training by San Francisco Bay: The Story of Camp Fremont, speaks on the epidemic as it was experienced on the San Francisco Peninsula a century ago, how World War I contributed to the epidemic’s spread, and how wartime Army surgeons helped today’s science by preserving specimens that ultimately enabled researchers to sequence the 1918 flu genome. Explore past theories on how the 1918 flu became so deadly and learn what questions scholars are asking today. 

Barbara Wilcox is a longtime journalist and writer in news, public affairs and American culture. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University. This book grew out of her Stanford thesis research, which was awarded the Stanford Historical Society Prize for Excellence in Historical Writing. She lives in Menlo Park on the site of Camp Fremont's school for bakers and cooks.



Sponsored By:

The Courthouse Docket is a monthly series of presentations held in the History Museum's Historic Courtroom A. The Courthouse Docket Series is sponsored by Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation.