Trinity College and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918


Trinity College and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918


This archive details some key excerpts from Trinity College's history during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and examines how the pandemic was treated by College officials and student publications such as the campus newspaper, the Trinity Tripod.


This archive contains records of College publications, the Trinity Tripod, the Hartford Courant, and other records from the historical annals of Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut).


Brendan W. Clark '21, Trinity College History Department


Trinity College Archives, Watkinson Library


Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut)


January 1918-June 1921


Brendan W. Clark '21
Trinity College


Digital reproductions and permission to publish Watkinson materials may be requested by contacting Watkinson staff. With permission of the staff, readers may use their own cameras in the library. Users of materials from the Watkinson Library or the College Archives must accept full legal responsibility for observing the laws of copyright, as well as the laws of libel and invasion of privacy and property rights.


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Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut

Collection Items

"Quarantine Lifted": An Extract from the Trinity Tripod
"Quarantine Lifted": an extract from the Trinity Tripod of November 5, 1918, reporting the end of the College's October quarantine. While the "influenza ban, which had restricted members of the S.A.T.C. [Students’ Army Training Camp] to the college…

"William J. Hamersley-Secretary of the Board of Fellows": An Extract from the Trinity Tripod 
The Tripod reported on Hamersley’s passing, recalling his “steady character and great ability—a fine example of a Christian gentleman and a Trinity man” and noting that he had been Secretary of the Board of Fellows of the College.

President's Address to the Board: "A 40% Reduction in the Student Population"
The Board of Trustees meetings make no explicit references to the pandemic. Indeed, they address far more the state of military preparedness on campus and the general absence of the student body as a result of World War I. President Luther’s report…

"Student Health": Excerpt from the Trinity College Student Handbook, 1916-1917
The 1916-1917 Trinity College Student Handbook, issued shortly before the pandemic, describes the medical care Trinity students could expect to receive:

“Students who are ill are at once visited by the Medical Director. In cases of serious…

"President's Address to the Board": The Year is Marked by "General Unrest"
The first and only statement on the influenza matter from the Board arises from President Luther '1870 indirectly, who in his June 20, 1919 report contends that the College had “been marked by general unrest, misunderstandings, complaints, schemes…

"Trinity Men Must Stay on Campus": An Extract from the Hartford Courant
The Hartford Courant, too, reported that “members of the Trinity College S.A.T.C. have been ordered to remain upon the college grounds until further notice because of the epidemic of Spanish influenza in the city.” It wasn’t clear if other members of…

"Medical Supplies-$50.00": The College's 1920 Budget
The College’s budget of June 18, 1920 affords insight into the medical preparedness of Trinity: there was $50.00 allocated for “medical supplies” and $3,500 and $1,800 apportioned for the salaries of a Medical Director and Assistant Medical Director,…

Letter from the Rev. Ernest Stires, D.D. '01
Aside from the S.A.T.C. incident, the College’s Board also saw a Trinity churchman and fellow Trustee called to action. The Right Reverend Ernest Milmore Stires, D.D.’01, was an Episcopal priest and later the 3rd Bishop of Long Island. In 1920,…

President's Address: "We Have Had Not Epidemics of Any Kind"
The crisis, if it were ever considered by the College a crisis at all, had abated by June 17, 1921, at least in the eyes of newly elected President Remsen Brinckerhoff Ogilby. He was pleased to report that while “two studensts [sic] have left college…

"Trinity Very Largely Escaped the First Epidemic of Influenza": An Extract from the 1919 S.A.T.C. Bulletin
The first and only time the word “influenza” is explicitly stated in any official College publication is the January 1919 bulletin from the S.A.T.C., where the College references the quarantine and illness among the S.A.T.C. broadly:


William James Hamersley '09: Obit Pro Patria, An Extract from the 1919 Necrology
The Bulletin’s necrology for 1918-1919 reported the deaths of five alumni, the most prominent of which was William James Hamersley ’09 of Old Saybrook, late of Hartford. Hamersley was a Hartford attorney for the Connecticut General Life Insurance…

Leroy Austin Ladd '08: Obit Pro Patria, An Extract from the 1919 Necrology
Leroy Austin Ladd ’08 of Hartford, late of Phoenix, Arizona, was elected “Chairman of the Commission of State Institutions,” though “immediately after the election…was stricken with Spanish influenza, which developed into pneumonia. After an illness…

Paul Roebling '17: Obit Pro Patria, An Extract from the 1919 Necrology
Paul Roebling ’17 of Morris Plains, New Jersey, was the youngest alumnus casualty of the influenza noted in the Bulletin, who on December 13 was “stricken with Spanish influenza and died at Bernardsville, New Jersey December 16, 1918.”

Portrait of President of Trinity College, Flavel Sweeten Luther
A portrait of President of the College, Flavel Sweeten Luther '1870, who oversaw the College between 1904 and 1919, during the worst years of the pandemic.

Portrait of President of the College, Rev. Remsen Brinckerhoff Ogilby
A portrait of President of the College, Remsen Brinckerhoff Ogilby, who oversaw the College in the years (1920-1943) following the pandemic.

The Students' Army Training Corps, c. 1918
The Students' Army Training Course (S.A.T.C.) organized and prepared Trinity students for military service in World War I and later become subject to a quarantine in October 1918 due to the influenza pandemic.

"Increased Library Attendance": The October Quarantine Forces Students to Study According to the Tripod
There were also impacts on the scholarly pursuits of students as a corollary of the pandemic. According to the Tripod, the College’s library saw an increase in attendance during the month of October 1918, with 2,750 visits versus 1,609 the year…

A Concise History of Trinity College and the 1918 Influenza
This brief essay by Brendan W. Clark '21, History and Public Policy and Law major, considers the 1918 Influenza and its impact on Trinity College. The essay is divided into three sections: "The Board of Trustees and the 1918 Pandemic," "Losses 'Neath…

Lester Hubbard Church '20: Obit Pro Patria, An Extract from the 1919 Necrology
Two Trinity students, sadly, did not see a Commencement as a result of the influenza. Among them was Lester Hubbard Church ’20 who, while serving as a third-class quartermaster on a submarine undergoing repairs in New London, “was stricken with…

Aubrey Gordon King '22: Obit Pro Patria, An Extract from the 1919 Necrology
Aubrey Gordon King ’22 was the youngest casualty in the Bulletin and the only who seemed to be residing on campus at the time: while still at Trinity, he was “taken ill with Spanish influenza on Tuesday, November 19, and died at the Hartford Hospital…

"DeMcCarthy Last to be Discharged": An Extract from the Trinity Tripod
The Tripod also reported that one of the College’s S.A.T.C. members had been stricken with the influenza several months later: in January 1919, Paul de McCarthy had “not yet received his discharge” as he was “at the Hartford Hospital recovering from…

"First Sunday Under S.A.T.C.": An Extract from the Trinity Tripod
The Tripod first announced in its October 8, 1918 edition that by an “official order published on Saturday, October 4, all S.A.T.C. men were restricted to the college grounds until further notice as a necessary precaution to prevent possibility of…

"Prominent Physician Dies of Influenza": An Extract from the Trinity Tripod
Dr. Jerome G. Atkinson, another alumni, was among the last Trinity men reported to die of influenza according to his obituary in the Tripod in April 1920.

"Spanfluenza Tablets": A Quack Advertisement in the Hartford Courant 
The influenza seems to have inspired many quack medicines as an easy solution. This advertisement in the Courant demonstrates that various products would have been available to Trinity students around 1918.

"Rev. Robert S. Hooper '15": An Extract from the Trinity Tripod 
The Tripod also covered briefly the deaths of several alumni, reporting on Hamersley in October 1918, as well as Rev. Robert S. Hooper ’15, who was “stricken with influenza, which quickly developed into a fatal attack of pneumonia” on October 6.
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