Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia

When: Tuesday October 15th, 2019  7 PM
Where:  Haverford Twp Library

What happens when disease strikes a city of two million people, sickening half a million and killing more than 12,000 in just six weeks and 16,000 in two months? During fall, 1918, in the last months of World War I, Philadelphia hosted the largest parade in its history. Within days, influenza casualties overwhelmed hospitals.

In this illustrated presentation, Robert D. Hicks, Director of the Mütter Museum, discusses the pandemic as a social catastrophe and considers its memorialization today. He shares highlights of the museum’s most ambitious exhibition to date, opening during fall, 2019, Spit Spreads Death; The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia.


Robert D. Hicks, PhD (rhicks@collegeofphysicians.org) is the director of the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library, William Maul Measey Chair for the History of Medicine, of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Formerly, he supervised exhibits, collections, and educational outreach at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. He has worked with museum-based education and exhibits for over three decades, primarily as a consultant to historic sites and museums. Robert has a doctorate in maritime history from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, and degrees in anthropology and archaeology from the University of Arizona.