"Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadephia," 4th Liberty Loan Parade, 1918, Collection of Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of The College of Physicians/Mütter Museum.
To remember those who died and to honor those who keep us safe today, The Mütter Museum’s Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918–19 in Philadelphia begins with a parade, organized by internationally renowned artist group Blast Theory and local community health organizations, on September 28. The procession marks the 101st anniversary the Liberty Loan Parade, a patriotic wartime effort that helped spread an influenza pandemic. The global crisis killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide from 1918 to 1919, and Philadelphia had the highest death rate of any major American city: more than 12,000 people died in a six-week span, and more than 20,000 died in six months.
On September 27, puppet troupe Spiral Q will host workshops at the museum, during which visitors will discuss health and healthcare access and make lanterns to be displayed at City Hall for the festival following the parade. The workshops are free to museum visitors that day. A full exhibition opens October 17 to explore the pandemic’s impact on Philadelphia neighborhoods and how it spread, as well as what could happen in future pandemics.