Join us December 16 at 1600 CET to hear John Eicher present “A Digital History Approach to Analyzing Memories of the 1918 Flu Pandemic.” (contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need a link)
Humanistic accounts of the 1918 influenza pandemic generally fall under two categories: socio-cultural histories that rely on journalistic and artistic sources and political/administrative histories that rely on government and bureaucratic sources. Both approaches overwhelmingly focus on urban populations and are framed at the regional or national levels. Working with a collection of nearly 1,000 first-hand accounts of the 1918 flu gathered from across 10 countries, my project, “The Sword Outside, the Plague Within,” aims to be the first transnational socio-cultural history of the pandemic in the European context. This presentation provides an overview of the digital tools and methods that I am using to gather data from the letters, and it demonstrates how researchers can use quantitative digital history techniques for qualitative analysis.
John Eicher is an Assistant Professor of Modern European History at Pennsylvania State University at Altoona. Focusing on the comparative and transnational, his research focuses on the movements of people and diseases around the world. His current project, “The Sword Outside, the Plague Within: The 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Europe,” compares the cultural impact of the 1918 flu across ten European countries using over 1,000 first-hand survivors’ accounts. This work was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, Penn State University and the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, where he served as a Marie S. Curie Junior Fellow during the 2020-21 academic year.