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New Hampshire

Influenza undoubtedly spread from Massachusetts, which was very hard hit, into New Hampshire. Unlike Massachusetts, New Hampshire was a very rural state; of all the New England states, New Hampshire suffered the least from influenza. That said, influenza still had a significant impact on the state.

c1920. A view of Elm St. in Manchester, New Hampshire. During the pandemic, Manchester imposed tight restrictions on restaurants and other public places. [Credit: The Library of Congress]
c1920. A view of Elm St. in Manchester, New Hampshire. During the pandemic, Manchester imposed tight restrictions on restaurants and other public places. [Credit: The Library of Congress]

In Berlin, during the peak of the epidemic in mid-October, a public health worker reported "It is hardly possible for me to describe the conditions in this community. I am the only experienced public health worker here with the exception of the staff. Saturday, I cared for forty patients, from four to nine sick in one family. Everything possible is being done. There are only seven doctors in the city. Doctors from near about towns come in for a few hours each day. Surrounding towns are all afflicted, but not to such an extent as Berlin. There is only one fifty-bed hospital in the city in charge of Catholic sisters, who have put up their own rooms as a temporary pneumonia ward. The sisters are sleeping in the school house."


On Sept. 27th, Charles Corning, a former mayor of Concord, assessed the situation, saying "Grippe is sweeping over Massachusetts and New Hampshire as fire shrivels the fields, laying out communities and taking a toll of death unprecedented."The next day Corning was even more dramatic: "A heavy sense of anxiety and apprehension like a dismal cloud in midsummer weighs heavily upon us because of the deadly ravages of the so called Spanish influenza," he wrote. "Funerals jostle one another so the sable procession goes on."

1910. A panoramic view of Concord, New Hampshire. In September 1918, the mayor of Concord wrote of the overwhelming number of funerals taking place in the city. [Credit: The Library of Congress]
1910. A panoramic view of Concord, New Hampshire. In September 1918, the mayor of Concord wrote of the overwhelming number of funerals taking place in the city. [Credit: The Library of Congress]

With thirty to forty percent of its workforce out sick, the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company asked customers to avoid allunnecessary calls, especially those made by children. Customers were also asked to avoid operator-assisted calls.

On Oct. 8th, city officials in Manchester demanded that all soda fountains close. Restaurants, which remained opened, were told to boil dishes for twenty minutes after use. Citizens were also asked to refrain from making unnecessary visits to their friends and neighbors.

On Oct. 4th, influenza rates were still increasing in Portsmouth. By October 18th, however, the PHS reported that "conditions are said to be improving" in Portsmouth and across the state. From October 5th to the 14th, state officials reported 82 deaths at Nashua and 35 at Dover. Between October 6th and the15th, inclusive, 205 deaths were reported at Manchester alone. The reports were probably underestimates, with the actual number of deaths being much higher.


The epidemic appears to have peaked during the week of October 12th, when 393 deaths were reported for the state. Influenza remained prevalent throughout the state until the summer of 1919.

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