Editor’s note: This blog post is small taste of a recent article by Suzanna Wagner: “Households Large and Small: Healthcare Civilians and the Prominence of Women’s Work in the Edmonton Bulletin’s Reporting of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic” published in the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association (vol. 32, no.2, 2022). Published with permission of the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association.
The banner image above is of Oliver School in Edmonton, which served as one of the headquarters for neighbourly help. The blackboard here listed names of women who were willing to take in children whose parents were ill, and the kitchens in the home economics department cooked soup to send out by automobile to households with the flu. Image courtesy of Prairie Postcards Collection, Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
Written by: Suzanna Wagner
March is Women’s History Month. What does that mean? What’s unique about women’s history? Isn’t it just regular history, but about women? Well, sort of. Studying the experiences of women in the past has some specific challenges: the ordinary parts of historical women’s lives have a tendency to get ignored, glossed over or just plain forgotten. Why? Often, it is because there are few records that preserved the everyday realities of women’s work and lives. Other times it’s because the everyday substance of historical women’s lives was considered unimportant, uninteresting or inconsequential and not worth examining closely.
And yet, when we dive deeply into the history of the 1918 influenza epidemic in Edmonton, we see not just how desperately important “women’s work” was, but how, in a rare historical moment, the details of women’s work were carefully recorded and published in the newspaper.Read more