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Vermont

December 1916, A group of ‘newsies’ stand outside a bank in Barre, Vermont selling newspapers. Without broad access to radios, the American public relied heavily on newspapers for information. [Credit: The Library of Congress]
December 1916, A group of ‘newsies’ stand outside a bank in Barre, Vermont selling newspapers. Without broad access to radios, the American public relied heavily on newspapers for information. [Credit: The Library of Congress]

After Massachusetts, Vermont, along with Connecticut, was the hardest hit of the New England states. On September 27th, 1918, the Public Health Service noted that “indefinite reports of influenza at many places have been reported.” During the final week of September, there were over 6,000 cases in the state. By October 4th, influenza could be found throughout the state. The largest outbreaks were at Middlebury, St. Johnsbury, Lydonville, St. Albans, Montpelier, Barre, Randolph and Northfield. Because officials were quickly overwhelmed by the disease, most reports regarding influenza cases and deaths were probably inaccurate. How3ever, it does seem that the disease probably peaked in Vermont during the week of October 12th.

c1904 State Capitol Building in Montpelier, Vermont. Vermont was among the hardest hit states during the epidemic. [Credit: The Library of Congress]
c1904 State Capitol Building in Montpelier, Vermont. Vermont was among the hardest hit states during the epidemic. [Credit: The Library of Congress]

State officials were unable to provide the Public Health Service with any type of record of influenza-related deaths.

Frank Eastman worked for a small power company in Montpelier and Barre. On Friday, Sept. 27th, Eastman wrote that nine of his crew were sick. By the next day, fourteen of his workers were out with influenza. Two weeks later, he soberly recorded the first deaths among his men: "Carpenter Wiley died this morning and the switchboard operator this afternoon."

By November 1st, however, state officials were cautiously optimistic, nothing that “the situation was improving." Influenza remained prevalent throughout the state during the winter and spring of 1919. By the summer, the disease had begun to fade in Vermont and across the United States.

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