“Honor the Nurses” – 1918 Influenza Pandemic in the Coal Region

As the fight against the Coronavirus and Covid-19 continues, we were struck by this editorial from the Wilkes-Barre Evening News from October 8, 1918. This plea to honor the nation’s nurses was written at the early stages of the 1918 influenza pandemic’s onset in the Coal Region. But most of the brief piece still applies today in our own pandemic.

Flu Nurses - October 1918 - Wilkes-Barre Social
Volunteer nurses in Georgetown, Luzerne County, October 1918

Read it in full below:

Honor the Nurses

While you are thinking these days about the people who are fighting the battles of their country do not forget to honor the nurses.

They are fighting against heavy odds both in France and here at home. The sudden appearance of an epidemic has added to the burden of these faithful women, and made their task not only more difficult by more dangerous.

There is no quarantine for them. On the contrary, they must be exposed night and day to the disease in its worst form and the result is that many of them go down before it.

There have been many deaths among the nurses in the camps already and there will be many more before the thing is over.

Let everybody do honor to the faithfulness and devotion of these women. And let those women at home who have had the training or experience which will enable them to do so harken to the call of the Red Cross and offer themselves for part time work at home so that the registered nurses may be released for active service.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of women in the Coal Region put themselves at risk during that historic pandemic to save the lives of others. Many died in the effort (including my own great-great-grandmother. Mabel Williard Warfield perished from influenza at the emergency hospital in Williamstown after serving as a volunteer nurse.

To the valiant nurses and other medical professionals on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic – THANK YOU! 


Featured Image: Red Cross nurses during the 1918 influenza pandemic

Read our stories about the 1918 influenza pandemic in the Coal Region


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