1918 Flu Epidemic in Washington, DC

Marist College Marist Seminary

Over the next 40 years, the American province of the Society of Mary continued to grow in ministries and members. By 1918, when a major epidemic of influenza—called the Spanish Flu at the time—struck, the Marists were spread throughout the United States, with posts in Canada and Mexico. While nearly all their churches and schools experienced illness, the two schools in Washington, DC, Marist College and Marist Seminary, were hit hardest, as was the city itself.

The first cases of flu in Washington, DC were reported in August, 1918, and by October 2, public schools were closed. Marist College, with 44 students and four lay brothers, took careful precautions, regulating fresh air and exercise. Their preparations were initially successful, as nobody got sick through the autumn.

Pictured: Marist College, top, and Marist Seminary, bottom