January 1918

January 1918 is characterized by historically cold weather, coal shortages, increased food rationing and regulation, completion of Bolshevik control of the Revolution, state-by-state ratification of Prohibition and severe recriminations against anyone suspected of being less than a "loyal American." But where is the Great Influenza? Less than everywhere, and a poor competitor for newspaper space to other daily hazards and assaults to health . 

There are scattered reports from the communities hosting the huge new cantonments and camps for training troops (1/13 and 1/27 - Camp Funston; 1/16 Camp Dodge). Yet, the main focus of the Fosdick Commission, the regulator of troop health, is on STDs, alcohol and other infectious diseases (tuberculosis, measles). Commercial outlets, restaurants and bars in the militarized communities are licensed, sometimes for the first time in these states' histories.

The Red Cross undertook a massively succesful recruitment of 16 million volunteers to begin the year (1/8). The organization becomes a talisman for demonstration of personal commitment to the war effort, with houses being painted yellow of men refusing to allow their children to volunteer (1/31).

The American press is immensely rich with information. The number, location and variety of formats of newspapers is remarkable. Content was supplemented by the 75,000 employees of the Committee on Public Information, a government sanctioned and underwritten "news organization." Irish independence, voting rights for women, meatless Mondays, food and coal shortages, mysterious fires, Liberty Bond drives, and agricultural prices all compete for attention in an America at War in Europe. The Great Influenza is hinting at its presence, but will explode in the coming months.