Boorowa resident Karen Smith is launching her book ‘Great Battle in a Snowstorm: Boorowa and District’s Spanish Flu Victims’ this Saturday at the Boorowa Museum.
When the current pandemic began, Karen wondered how the Spanish Flu impacted Boorowa and district and started researching the topic. Using copies of The Burrowa News, which is electronically available on TROVE, Karen identified that 21 people were reported to have lost their lives to the Spanish Flu. Karen dug further and acquired death certificates to confirm cause of death and then started to research the lives of the victims using Ancestry.com.au. Karen was particularly interested to find out about the victim’s lives before the Spanish Flu crisis and identify what the impact of the loss of these individuals meant to their families and the community.
She discovered that the youngest victim was Everard Angel, aged nine months and the oldest victim was James Hughston, age 81 years. The surnames of the victims include Castles, Moorby, Taylor, Farrell and Hardiman. Fifteen victims were male and the remainder were female. Amongst the victims were home makers, graziers, farmers, farm labourers, shearers, a hotel keeper, a groom and valet, a blacksmith and a forensic scientist.
Karen was also keen to learn about the medical team that worked so valiantly to save patients affected by the Spanish flu. Just as she did with the Spanish Flu victims, Karen researched the lives of individuals in the medical teams, presenting information about their lives before and after 1919.
Amongst the chapters dedicated to each victim, Karen expands on themes that arise throughout the book, such as the impact of the Spanish Flu on Aboriginal people, education in Australia, bushrangers, alcohol consumption and child protection legislation.
Karen concludes, “Despite the fear and substantial personal risk posed by the Spanish Flu, Boorowa and district rose to the challenge. The wartime spirit of volunteering and community service saw medical personnel, church leaders, civic leaders, council workers and organisations such as the Red Cross step up. They staffed emergency hospitals, delivered comforts from pyjamas to soup and cared for victims who were critically ill or convalescent. We owe these forebears our acknowledgement and respect.”
The book will first be for sale at the Boorowa Museum on Saturday the 8th of August at 10am. The book is available from the Boorowa Museum as well as “Love Creations Co-op”, a brand-new shop on Marsden Street, Boorowa. Karen is also seeking retailers in Harden Murrumburrah and Young. Five dollars from each copy of the book is going to the Boorowa Museum.
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