• Images of World War I soldiers fighting in trenches from The Illustrated War News, 1917. Courtesy of University of Michigan via HathiTrust.

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    The Illustrated War News
    • Date
    • 1914-1918
    • Description
    • No more published. New series has subtitle: being a pictorial record of the Great War.
    • Rights
    • Public domain only when viewed in the US. Learn more at http://www.hathitrust.org/access_use
    • Partner
    • HathiTrust
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Michigan.

  • A postcard of the US National Guard training facility, Camp Greene. Courtesy of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte via the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

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    View from Water Tank No. 1 - U. S. National Guard Cantonment, Camp Greene, Charlotte, NC
    • Date
    • 2011-06-29
    • Description
    • View from Water Tank No. 1 at the U. S. National Guard Cantonment known as Camp Greene in Charlotte, NC [Published by Southern Post Card Co., Asheville, NC - A-64652 - 1918 postmark; Curt Teich; color; white border; very good] A military training fac... more
      View from Water Tank No. 1 at the U. S. National Guard Cantonment known as Camp Greene in Charlotte, NC [Published by Southern Post Card Co., Asheville, NC - A-64652 - 1918 postmark; Curt Teich; color; white border; very good] A military training facility west of downtown Charlotte, Camp Greene was named for General Nathanael Greene, who defended Mecklenburg from British attack during the Revolutionary War. Living and working in 1,000 tents and barracks, some 60,000 soldiers passed through Charlotte. Some trained as pilots, others learned to repair airplanes. less
    • Rights
    • Materials in the Digital Collections at Atkins Library are provided free for educational use under fair use as outlined by current U.S. Copyright law and accompanying guidelines. Written permission from the J. Murrey Atkins Library or the rights hold... more
      Materials in the Digital Collections at Atkins Library are provided free for educational use under fair use as outlined by current U.S. Copyright law and accompanying guidelines. Written permission from the J. Murrey Atkins Library or the rights holder must be obtained before using an item for publishing or commercial purposes. less
    • Partner
    • North Carolina Digital Heritage Center
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

  • A postcard of the US National Guard training facility, Camp Greene. Courtesy of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte via the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

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    View from Water Tank No. 1 - U. S. National Guard Cantonment, Camp Greene, Charlotte, NC
    • Date
    • 2011-06-29
    • Description
    • View of the US National Guard Cantonment at Camp Green in Charlotte (NC), View from water tank No. 1 [Southern Post Card Co., Asheville, NC - A-64652 - 1918 postmark; black white border; good] A military training facility west of downtown Charlotte,... more
      View of the US National Guard Cantonment at Camp Green in Charlotte (NC), View from water tank No. 1 [Southern Post Card Co., Asheville, NC - A-64652 - 1918 postmark; black white border; good] A military training facility west of downtown Charlotte, Camp Greene was named for General Nathanael Greene, who defended Mecklenburg from British attack during the Revolutionary War. Living and working in 1,000 tents and barracks, some 60,000 soldiers passed through Charlotte. Some trained as pilots, others learned to repair airplanes. On the verso of this card is a note from presumably a soldier regarding the lifting of camp quarantine. In 1918, the winter weather and conditions of the camp contributed to a severe influenza epidemic and many deaths among the camp residents. less
    • Rights
    • Materials in the Digital Collections at Atkins Library are provided free for educational use under fair use as outlined by current U.S. Copyright law and accompanying guidelines. Written permission from the J. Murrey Atkins Library or the rights hold... more
      Materials in the Digital Collections at Atkins Library are provided free for educational use under fair use as outlined by current U.S. Copyright law and accompanying guidelines. Written permission from the J. Murrey Atkins Library or the rights holder must be obtained before using an item for publishing or commercial purposes. less
    • Partner
    • North Carolina Digital Heritage Center
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

  • A postcard written by a military trainee, referring to the "Spanish flu," 1918. Courtesy of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte via the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

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    Post office, Camp Greene, Charlotte, NC (verso)
    • Date
    • 2011-06-29
    • Description
    • Picture of the Post Office at Camp Greene, Charlotte, NC [Censored -1918 postmark; b white border; very good] A military training facility west of downtown Charlotte, Camp Greene was named for General Nathanael Greene, who defended Mecklenburg from ... more
      Picture of the Post Office at Camp Greene, Charlotte, NC [Censored -1918 postmark; b white border; very good] A military training facility west of downtown Charlotte, Camp Greene was named for General Nathanael Greene, who defended Mecklenburg from British attack during the Revolutionary War. Living and working in 1,000 tents and barracks, some 60,000 soldiers passed through Charlotte. Some trained as pilots, others learned to repair airplanes. In this picture, some soldiers are outside of the building, also a truck is parked at the door. The note on the verso refers to autumn weather and the "Spanish flu" which became an epidemic a few months later. less
    • Rights
    • Materials in the Digital Collections at Atkins Library are provided free for educational use under fair use as outlined by current U.S. Copyright law and accompanying guidelines. Written permission from the J. Murrey Atkins Library or the rights hold... more
      Materials in the Digital Collections at Atkins Library are provided free for educational use under fair use as outlined by current U.S. Copyright law and accompanying guidelines. Written permission from the J. Murrey Atkins Library or the rights holder must be obtained before using an item for publishing or commercial purposes. less
    • Partner
    • North Carolina Digital Heritage Center
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The trenches, where much of the fighting took place during the Great War, were deadly in many ways. In trench warfare, soldiers protected themselves from enemy fire by fighting from below ground in deep but narrow dugouts surrounded by barbed wire. Conditions in these trenches were atrocious by modern standards. Damp, cold, dirty, vermin-infested, and sometimes covered with human remains, they were the perfect setting for viral mutation, hastening the spread of the disease through close contact. These suboptimal conditions were not limited to close spaces like battlefield trenches or crowded barracks. Once contracted, influenza travelled with victims as they moved from place to place, whether on foot, by train, or aboard ships. Realizing this, American medical officers attempted to convince the War Department to reduce crowding on ships and other transport, but to no avail. Consequently, all forms of troop and supply transport continued to spread the virus globally.

While it's tempting to think that stronger efforts to contain influenza where it raged would have stopped its spread, this would have been impractical during wartime, when the advantage gained by moving troops and equipment quickly and efficiently was crucial. Such efforts might have slowed the spread of influenza, but it is unlikely they would have completely stopped transmission because of the impossibility of total quarantine.