Oral History: Victoria Gillies Remembers the Spanish Flu Epidemic
Victoria Gillies came down with the Spanish flu in April 1918. She was not quite three years old. As she explained to an interviewer in 1988, her father was sick with the flu and she stayed by his side and became ill as well. Her father died, but with the help of an overworked physician, Victoria survived. No one else in her family got sick because they all left the house to avoid the disease. She described the flu as being like a cold, but worse because the patient could not breathe from the fluid accumulating in the lungs. Death came by suffocation.
In the first excerpt from a twenty minute recorded interview, Gillies describes the impact of the flu on her rural Bottineau community. The second excerpt tells of Dr. Johnson’s efforts to treat people scattered throughout the Turtle Mountains from Bottineau to Dunseith.
SHDND MSS 10754
[Interview from audio cassette 2097. Marker 144-158, title: “Victoria Gillies discusses the impact of the flu”. Marker 104 – 117, title: “Dr. Johnson’s effort to deal with the epidemic”]
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