An Empire Bay author is distributing her new book about the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic through local bookshops, as well as nationally.
Ms Trish Skehan said her book “Frontline of the Pandemic” contained letters and reports, dated 1919, from doctors, nurses, patients, chaplains, reporters and teachers, who lived and worked at the front line of the epidemic in Australia.
Nearly 15,000 Australians died in the Spanish flu epidemic within a year, she said.
“These voices from the past speak of the distance between time and eternity being incredibly short for those brave souls, who knew that to work in this field would mean almost certain death.
“These stories uncannily mirror what is happening in our society and communities today.
“Schools and businesses shut, states in lockdown, borders closed – but with people trying desperate measures to get across – social distancing, wearing masks and protective gear, hospital intensive care wards filled with dying patients as doctors and nurses struggle to cope with the virus, while scientists desperately search for a vaccine.”
Ms Skehan said she had first come across the material through her involvement in the City of Canada Bay Heritage Society in Concord in 2013.
She had been approached to become archivist of the estate of Ethel Turner, author of Seven Little Australians, and to transcribe letters from her daughter who was a voluntary aide in the hospital at Concord West in 1919.
The Heritage Society also had archives from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where the 1919 “cure” was discovered by Dr Dean, sourced in December for their Museum’s exhibition, Ms Skehan said.
“When I heard whispers of the coming pandemic early in January, I gathered my research notes and expanded the story about what was happening then in NSW.”
Ms Skehan said she had been invited to read extracts of the book for the official Remembrance Day ceremony, to be streamed from Martin Place on November 11.
Email, 28 Oct 2020
Trish Skehan, P Skehan Publishing