The headline of the Oct. 10, 1918 Wisconsin State Journal proclaims that there were 1,000 cases of the Spanish flu in Madison and that all public gatherings were banned. The story goes on to say that all schools, colleges, churches and theaters were closed indefinitely under an order by Dr. Cornelius A. Harper, the state health officer. Wisconsin was the only state to confront the 1918 flu pandemic with uniform, statewide shutdown measures, which limited deaths, historians say.

The Marathon County Historical Society and the Marathon County Public Library present History Speaks On the Air: Outlier Within an Outlier: Wausau’s Maverick Response to the 1918 Pandemic at 2 p.m. May 22 on Facebook Live and YouTube Live.

Brent Zinkel will discuss Wausau’s maverick response to the 1918 “Spanish” flu epidemic and explores theories to explain the city’s response as an “outlier within an outlier.”

Wisconsin’s response to the 1918 pandemic was unique, with public health measures that ranked among the strictest in the nation. While these measures that closed schools, churches and other public spaces were generally accepted statewide, Wausau was the only city in the state to delay complying with the statewide closure order.

Zinkel is a graduate of UW-Madison and teaches European and U.S. history at Wausau East High School.

More events

History Chats: Historic Preservation Month

Every week, MCHS staff Ben Clark and/or Gary Gisselman give a short presentation of an interesting topic relating to the history of Marathon County.

History Chats go live at 12:30 p.m. every Thursday, as a free, online broadcast through both YouTube and Facebook Live. Past broadcasts are also available
for later viewing.

May 6- The Plumer Mansion. When faced with the wrecking ball, the community rallied to save the historic building.

May 13- The Federal Building. A successful effort to repurpose an outdated structure.

May 20- The railroad depots. Structures that found new lives without the need of community efforts.

May 27- Grant Elementary School. A current case study of a recent and ongoing effort to preserve a historic building.

For more information, call the Marathon County Historical Society at 715-842-5750 and leave a message or email