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January 27, 1920

Owing to the worldwide influenza epidemic, now entering its third year, students were told to remain on campus for the “mid-year” break. While not absolutely forbidden to leave for nearby cities, they were told that permission to travel would be given only in urgent circumstances.

The flu pandemic started in Europe and was first seen in the United States in January 1918. By that fall, at least 3,000 cases had been recorded in Poughkeepsie, and percautions were taken on campus, while campus groups reached out to assist local health agencies. In October 1918, money was raised on campus to aid local organizations, emergency accommodations were set up for ailing staff members, most of them campus residents, and two students with nursing qualifications left college for two weeks to assist with influenza cases at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

A month after the curtailment of the “mid-year” break Dr. Elizabeth Burr Thelberg ’13, the college physician reported that the number of flu cases on campus had dropped by half from the 113 the year before, and called on “all members of the community” to continue their vigilence.

The Years