29 Sep Student Employee Highlight: Introducing Kallin Glauser
By Oakley Burt
As the coronavirus pandemic forced universities across the nation to close their doors and transition to online learning, student employees on campuses had to pivot as well. Student employees here, at the J. Willard Marriott Library, found their duties shifting as they began to work remotely due to the library closure. Despite this, our student employees have still been able to access library resources to complete their work on special projects. One such project being developed is a digital exhibit and timeline detailing the 1918 Spanish Flu.
Student employee Kallin Glauser, who works in Digital Collections, is currently creating this exhibit and timeline. “With the timeline, you can view the course the pandemic took in Utah,” said Glauser. “It’s [the timeline] definitely Utah centered. I decided to include some of the beginning dates to add context, as well as Armistice Day.”
To create this interactive, digital exhibit, Glauser has had to sift through the digitized material from the early 1900’s. “Before the coronavirus, I would spend a lot of time in Special Collections looking at original archival material and old postcards, reading through journals and things like that,” she said.
Now that she is unable to view the tangible materials in Special Collections, turning to digitized material has proved to be challenging. Glauser commented that it has been difficult to find digitized photographs taken by Utah residents documenting their experiences during that time period. “There are not a lot of pictures about the Spanish Flu in our collection, so I have had to work creatively to find images that work. One way I’ve done that is by including images of newspaper articles from the day,” said Glauser.
In articles from the 1918 Spanish Flu, Glauser found that some health officials treated the epidemic as a serious matter, while others dismissed it. “You can see that same narrative today as well, as kind of too little too late,” said Glauser. “Political rhetoric can really impact the way people act in an event like this.”
In addition to a lack of pictures related to the Spanish Flu, the newspaper reports also posed a special challenge. “News articles from the same time reported wildly different numbers of cases, which is crazy,” she said. “I’m trying to find the most accurate, real numbers by comparing the articles and looking at reports from the health department.”
Glauser also notes the similarities between the 1918 Spanish Flu and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic we are facing today. “There are a lot of newspaper articles with statements being made to limit gatherings to below 10 people… and mandatory mask wearing,” she said.
Another similarity between the two is the public’s response to the situation. In articles from the 1918 Spanish Flu, Glauser found that some health officials treated the epidemic as a serious matter, while others dismissed it. “You can see that same narrative today as well, as kind of too little too late,” said Glauser. “Political rhetoric can really impact the way people act in an event like this.”
With the exhibit, Glauser hopes it will get people to pay attention to history and acknowledge its repeating patterns. View the timeline.