Look Back at Leominster During 1918 Flu Epidemic

November 15, 2018

LEOMINSTER -- It was said that every family lost someone during the influenza pandemic of 1918.

Adelard and Dora Racine, living on Middle Street in Leominster, lost four children -- 9-year-old twins Alfred and Emma and 2-year-old Emile within days of each other in early October, and then Georgianna, 12, in January 1919.

By that time, the flu was raging in Leominster, and life ground to a halt. All public gatherings were prohibited, and the Board of Health ordered all public places “of whatever kind or character to close their doors immediately.” That included soda fountains, bowling alleys, pool rooms, auctions, meeting halls and libraries. Schools, movie theaters, dance halls and churches had been ordered closed a month earlier.

Tonight, starting at 7 p.m., Diane Sanabria, a board member of the Leominster Historical Society, will present “Leominster and the Flu Epidemic of 1918” at the society’s headquarters, 17 School St.

The public is welcome to attend the program marking the 100th anniversary of the pandemic that took more than 600,000 lives -- more than in World War I.

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