Window to Hope’s History: A Century Ago

The COVID-19 outbreak is a rapidly emerging situation and the college’s response is continuing to evolve, but as noted on page two the emphasis — as worldwide — is on restraining the coronavirus’ spread by limiting person-to-person contact. In that respect, the preventative measures taken on campus and in the community in response to the global Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, to which the contemporary crisis has drawn comparisons, sound familiar to 2020 ears. In-person classes and all activities were canceled for about three weeks, from mid-October through early November, although instruction continued, with students directed to study in their rooms after obtaining their assignments on bulletin boards. Hope’s steps ran in conjunction with actions citywide that included closing all the local schools, canceling church services, shuttering ice cream parlors and soda fountains (restaurants could remain open) and requiring businesses to close early each day. As reported in the Holland City News on Oct. 24, 1918, the college’s priorities at the time also sound familiar — they might even have been written today: “Nothing is being left undone to safeguard the health of the students.”

For more about the impact of the 1918 epidemic on Holland and Hope, please see the article “Here As at Home: The 1918 Holland Flu Epidemic” by Aine O’Connor ’20 in the Summer 2018 Joint Archives Quarterly.

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