“Unmasking History: Who Was Behind the Anti-Mask League Protests During the 1918 Influenza Epidemic in San Francisco?” an article by Dr. Brian Dolan

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In his recent article Dr. Brian Dolan looks at the politics of protests during the 1918 influenza epidemic in San Francisco.

“On April 17, 2020, San Francisco Mayor London Breed did something that
had not been done for 101 years. She issued an order that face masks be
worn in public as a measure to help prevent the spread of infectious disease
in the midst of a pandemic. This act promptly raised questions about
how things were handled a century ago. The media soon picked up on the
antics of an “Anti-Mask League” that was formed in San Francisco to protest
this inconvenience, noting some historical parallels with current public
complaints about government overreach. This essay dives deeper into the
historical context of the anti-mask league to uncover more information
about the identity and possible motivations of those who organized these
protests. In particular it shines light on the fascinating presence of the leading
woman in the campaign—lawyer, suffragette, and civil rights activist, Mrs. E.C.
Harrington.” Read the full story in Perspectives in Medical Humanities (UC Medical Humanities Consortium, May 19, 2020)

Lecture now online: Karl F. Meyer: California’s Forgotten Microbe Hunter

The lecture Karl F. Meyer: California’s Forgotten Microbe Hunter given by Mark Honigsbaum, PhD at UCSF last month, on December 5th, is now available free online via the Internet Archive.

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In the 1930s California’s rapid population growth and the incursion of agricultural settlers into valleys and deserts teeming with exotic pathogens resulted in outbreaks of “new” infectious diseases. To divine the cause of these outbreaks and trace the epidemics to their source, health officials turned to San Francisco’s premier “microbe hunter,” Karl Friedrich Meyer.

Drawing on Meyer’s papers at the UCSF and Bancroft libraries, this talk reviews Meyer’s feats of microbial detection and his pioneering investigations of disease ecology. Dr. Honigsbaum views Meyer as an important bridge figure in mid-20th century medical research who sought to link microbial behavior to broader environmental and social factors that impact host-pathogen interactions and the mechanisms of disease control.

 

About the UCSF Archives & Special Collections Lecture Series: This lecture series was launched to introduce a wider community to treasures and collections from its holdings, to provide an opportunity for researchers to discuss how they use this material and to celebrate clinicians, scientists, and health care professionals who donated their papers to the archives.

Find out more about upcoming lectures, past presentations, and links to more lecture videos here! And please, join us for the next one– coming soon in 2015!