Russellville During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Cartoon of a man next to sailors with caption: "Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases as dangerous as poison gas shells.Like most libraries, the Ross Pendergraft Library is committed to keeping the memory of a community preserved and accessible to all.  In the middle of our current crisis, we decided to take a trip back in time to the 1918 influenza pandemic in Russellville, Arkansas, as reported by the local newspaper, known then as the Courier Democrat (Weekly).

Using the microfilmed newspaper collection on the first floor, we scanned through issues of the local newspaper during the height of the 1918 pandemic to find out how our local area and its residents fared under similar circumstances.

The Epidemic In Russellville

Text of a headline reading, "Schools Closed by Spanish Flu"

Then as now, schools closed and public gatherings were prohibited during the height of epidemic in October of 1918.  Arkansas Tech, then known as the Second District Agricultural School, also closed. By October 10th, 1918, the influenza was reported in every county with “hundreds” of cases being reported in Russellville.

By October 17th, the newspaper reported that, “Nothing like the present epidemic of influenza has ever before been experienced in Russellville.”  At least 17 funerals were performed on a single Friday due to the “Spanish influenza.”

Obituary notices list entire families, along with numerous children, who are simply named “Baby” along with the family surname.

Text: a list of obituraries for children which are identified as "Baby Cullum, Baby Sullivan, Baby Brixey, Baby Jones."

Another reflection of these astonishing and cruel times, African-Americans in our community who died during the pandemic were segregated to separate obituary sections:Text: "Colored People" and followed by a description of an obituary for an African American man named Albert Jackson who was buried along with his familyBy October 24th, even the newspaper reporting on the influenza pandemic began to feel the impact, and the lone reporter working on that issue noted, “With only ‘our-self’ left on the job, we feel that no apology is necessary for the small paper we are publishing this week.”

This date seems to be when deaths reached its apex in Russellville.  Twenty-seven deaths were reported in one week, with most burials taking place at Oakland Cemetery.

The “Spanish” Flu

Text: "Many deaths from Spanish Influenza. Epidemic still raging in town and country, though perhaps in milder form. 27 deaths during past week. In 1918, the virus was called the “Spanish Influenza” because Spain was one of the first countries to openly report on it, due to the fact that it was not under the same media censorship as other countries fighting World War I.  It was reported in the Courier-Democrat on October 17, 1918, that the Spanish authorities repudiated the myth that it originated in Spain and instead sent a dire warning: “If the people of this country do not take care, the epidemic will become so widespread throughout the United States that soon we shall hear the disease called the ‘American’ influenza.”  Despite this, the local newspaper refers to the disease consistently as the “Spanish influenza.”

Daily Life for Individuals

In other sections of the paper, a listing of daily notices and updates were the town’s primary way of spreading news at the local family level.  These little dispatches from each community provided a quick round-up of who felt better, who was still sick, who had a birth, or who was fixing up their farm.   From “Prairie Grove, Russellville” is the simple sentence, “Everyone is still sick.”  On Colony Mountain in Lamar, the correspondent reported, “There are a few cases, but none serious.”

Text: "There is so much talk of the flu a fellow is afraid to stick his head out for fear some one will sneeze in his face."

From East Point, Russellville, a report about the rigid enforcement of the vaccination law is met by an early anti-vaccination comment: “If this is the free country we have all been fighting for, the people should have a say-so about such as that.”

Precautions and “Cures”

Text: "Spanish Influenza rapidly spreading. Persons weak and run-down easy victims--fortify yourself against it by taking tanlac."The newspaper urged the same cautions one would take to avoid the cold, including advice like, “Avoid crowds, especially indoor gatherings where ventilation is poor.”

Before stricter regulation of pharmaceuticals, many ‘tonics’ were touted as cures and promised to relieve cold and flu symptoms.  One tonic  called “Tanlac,” was featured in an advertisement disguised as a legitimate news article, providing facts about the virus before urging readers to take Tanlac, which claimed to give you “… the fighting strength to ward off the influenza germ.”   Another advertised medicine to treat influenza included “Calotab”—a laxative which promised to leave your system, “purified and refreshed.”

The Lifting of Quarantine

By October 31st of 1918, the county health officer, J.R. Linzy, lifted the quarantine for Pope county and announced it was safe for schools to resume by Monday, November 4th.  Churches could open by Saturday, November 2nd, though the health official cautioned, “We request that no one attend any of the above places when there are cases of influenza in your home.”   Many deaths were still occurring, however, with the obituary section reporting twenty deaths for that week, with space limited to just names and dates.

"Tomorrow is the first--and there is no quarantine against bill collectors. Greet them cheerfully.

On November 14th, Liberty Hill’s correspondent reported, “The flu has just about gone.  School has opened and the children are glad.”  Most of the local news at this time report a mix of flu recoveries and deaths, but they also include the usual announcements about births, visitors, crop harvests, and Sunday school meetings.  Many people are hosting parties at this time, and life seems to begin to return to normal.

Text: "No charge for delivery anywhere in the city. Everything to everybody will be cash at store or on deliver. My prices are too close to go to extra expense of bookkeeper and collector."

As we endure another week of social distancing and social isolation, it can be comforting to have the perspective of the past—to learn from our common circumstances and to be hopeful of a future end to this pandemic.  For another glimpse back at the 1918 pandemic, you can find similar primary sources online from our New York Times Digital Archive, with full-text, digitized coverage from 1853-2013, or the American Periodical Series, a premier collection of American periodicals published between 1740 and 1940.

Stay safe and stay connected to us—virtually—via chat, text, phone, social media (InstagramFacebook, or Twitter), or email.  We’ll be happy to answer research questions, help you find reference resources, or share our favorite and wildest claims from 1918 health tonics.

Text: "The writer is about run down, trying to wait on the sick folks here, so you needn't expect much news from us."



New Online Resources During Coronavirus Pandemic

During this unprecedented time where availability of online resources for teaching and learning is more critical than ever, the Ross Pendergraft Library has taken advantage of database trials and free offers to expand our collections, even if temporarily.

In the last month, we’ve brought online several databases–too many to feature here.  You can find an updated listing of new resources, updated resources, and database trials at our resource guide here:  A deeper dive into a few of those resources below.  Keep in mind, many of these resources are being offered until the semester is completed.


This is a streaming video platform available at the library through our A-to-Z list. Recently, this platform has been updated significantly and now features new videos such as The Great Courses and 16 other films and documentaries.  This newer content will be available for the next four weeks, but other videos are part of a licensed collection.  If faculty wish to order a film, they contact their departmental liaison or fill out the request form available on Kanopy via search.

Screenshot of Kanopy, featuring the Great Courses


The Ross Pendergraft Library now enjoys full access to all available JSTOR collections from now until June 30th.  JSTOR is a multi-disciplinary database featuring current and archived articles, primary sources, and ebooks.  Previously, we were limited to just a few of their collections like Arts and Sciences and Life Sciences.  But now, our access has expanded to articles in business, ecology, and a variety of disciplines.  We now also have access to primary source collections such as “Global Plants” and “19th Century British Plants.”  There are also several thematic collections on topics like Sustainability, Security Studies, and Lives of Literature.

Screenshot of JSTOR, a multi-disciplinary database

Social Explorer

Social Explorer is an online research tool which provides quick and easy access to historical census data and demographic information. It creates maps and reports to help users visually analyze and understand demography and social change throughout history.  The database will be on trial for the rest of the semester.

Screenshot from Social Explorer database showing that 21% of Pope County persons 18 years or older are smokers

Colonial State Papers

The Colonial State Papers offers access to over 7,000 hand-written documents and more than 40,000 bibliographic records with this incredible resource on Colonial History. In addition to Britain’s colonial relations with the Americas and other European rivals for power, this collection also covers the Caribbean and Atlantic world. It is an invaluable resource for scholars of early American history, British colonial history, Caribbean history, maritime history, Atlantic trade, plantations, and slavery.  This database is currently on trial until April 27th.

Screenshot from a result in Colonial Papers detailing an exchange regarding Salem witch trials from Governor Sir William Phips to the Earl of Nottingham

At this time, many other new resources and database trials are currently being negotiated, and we will continue to update this page as more resources come online.  Check back with us or stay tuned by following us on social media: InstagramFacebook, or Twitter.

In the meantime, stay safe, keep calm, and research on!

Coronavirus (Covid-19) News and Updates – Library Edition

signs on the computer: Please do not use this computer social distancing

April 1st, 2020

Here is the latest information, as of April 1st, concerning library policies, access, hours, and collections during the current pandemic of Covid-19.  Please note that this is a rapidly updating situation, and as we make changes to our policies, we will continue to update this page.  Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter as well for more updates.

Library Hours and Restrictions

The Ross Pendergraft Library will be reducing regular hours effective March 27th :

  • Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM
  • Friday through Saturday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Sunday, 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Library Computer Labs

sign for wipes and a can of lysol wipes for wiping down stuffThe Library computer labs and printing are still available, but please observe the following restrictions:

  1. Computer labs and library services at this time are only available to students, faculty, and staff.
  2. In order to comply the Arkansas Governor’s orders, only 10 people are allowed on each floor. If the 10th person is already on the floor, you may be asked to go to another floor.
  3. Do not hold meetings or sit next to each other.  Do not congregate in groups.
  4. Use hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to wipe down keyboards and surfaces between each use.  HELP US PREVENT VIRAL SPREAD BY WIPING DOWN YOUR KEYBOARD AND MOUSE BEFORE AND AFTER EACH USE.
  5. If you are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, including fever or cough, stay at home or in your dorm room at this time.  Do not come to the library!  

Library Physical Collections

We are still making our collections available for check-out.  All materials currently checked out, with the exception of reserve items, headphones, and calculators, are not due back to the library until August 4th.   We have an outdoor drop-box at the north entrance, if you do not wish to come inside the library.  Additionally, all college universities in other parts of the state, including the Ozark campus, can facilitate the return of our books if you wish to return them there.   Short loan items like textbooks and headphones are still under normal circulation policies, and should be returned promptly for use by other students.

Library Services and Staffing

Most services are still available.  Interlibrary Loan is currently limited to online articles, only.  The circulation desk will be staffed, but Reference will be available via chat or telephone.  By using chat, the librarians can share their screen for more enhanced instruction.  This is available via our “Ask Us” pageThis site also features our phone numbers:

Online Resources

All databases, streaming videos, and ebooks are still available via our website at Find It or via the A-Z Databases page.  The library is currently in the process of expanding our streaming video to accommodate current faculty requests, but our main streaming collections at this time include:

Additionally, we have partnered with multiple vendors for expanded coverage of existing databases and trials of new collections.  Please read our New Online Resources During Coronavirus Pandemic news update for a full list.

Library Instruction Videos

The librarians are currently working on a series of videos for how to access our basic collection and services online.  Here are some instructional videos currently available:

We will continue to update our video offerings as we move through this time.  Check back here for updates

Online Library Research Guides

screenshot of the research guides link on the homepageFor students working on research papers, we have built a staggering number of customized guides for topics and classes.   Each guide contains suggested resources for articles, tips for citations, and links to other instructional videos, websites, and more to help them complete their assignments.

We currently have a guide specific for faculty that addresses distance education, streaming media, ebook collections, and more:


Information sources for COVID-19

For campus specific information, visit the ATU Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information page. The latest information for the public health will be freely available at federal and state government agency websites, like the CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health.   If need paywalled articles from Washington Post or articles from Lancet, and other academic or medical journals that you can access from home, here are some library-provided resources:

  1. Newspaper Source: Current access to New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other newspapers around the country and world.
  2. News (Gale OneFile):Current access to Washington Post & New York Times, and other newspapers around the country and world.
  3. Chronicle of Higher Education: This is the full digital version.
  4. UpToDate: This is the point-of-care critical resource used by nurses and clinicians.  It requires a personal login, in addition to your tech login, but information is organized as a clinical aid in diagnosing, treating, and understanding disease and medical problems.  A great source to translate “doctor” speak and to find a quick summary of current academic literature.
  5. MedLine: This is the most comprehensive database for medical, academic literature.  Indexing JAMA, Lancet, and other top medical journals, this is a great source for locating the most academic studies on COVID-19, coronaviruses, and other peer-reviewed medical studies.

We will continue to update you as we get information and the situation changes.  But we are here to help you, however we can, for as long as we can.

Good luck out there and stay safe!

image of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

The Fifth Annual International Film Festival, March 4th – 19th

The Ross Pendergraft Library invites the campus and the community to our International Film Festival.  The festivities kick off March 4th with a screening of “Yojimbo”, a Japanese samurai film directed by Akira Kurosawa, at 7:00 PM at the Doc Bryan Lecture Hall.

Eight films in four languages are included in this year’s festival.  Each screening is considered an On Track event for Global Focus.

All screenings are free and open to the public.  Each film begins at 7:00 PM at Doc Bryan Lecture Hall.

Here’s a listing of dates and films:

Poster for YojimboWednesday, March 4 @ 7:00 PM: Yojimbo

Japanese with English subtitles, 1961. A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town.  Directed by Akira Kurosawa, the film was later remade in the United States as A Fistful of Dollars.

Poster of the film Amour, featuring an older womanThursday, March 5 @ 7:00 PM: Amour

French with English subtitles, 2012. Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple’s bond of love is severely tested.

Poster for the movie Ran featuring fire and Japanese scriptTuesday, March 10 @ 7:00 PM: Ran

Japanese with English subtitles, 1985. In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other…and him.  Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of King Lear.

Movie poster of Die WelleWednesday, March 11 @ 7:00 PM: Die welle (The Wave

German with English subtitles, 2008. A high school teacher’s experiment to demonstrate to his students what life is like under a dictatorship spins horribly out of control when he forms a social unit with a life of its own.

Movie posterThursday, March 12 @ 7:00 PM: La reina de España (The Queen of Spain)

Spanish with English subtitles, 2016.  Nearly twenty years after the events of “The Girl of Your Dreams”, in the 1950s, Macarena Granada, who has become a Hollywood star, returns to Spain to film a blockbuster about Queen Isabella I of Castile.

Movie poster featuring a woman on a bikeTuesday, March 17 @ 7:00 PM: Barbara


German with English subtitles, 2012.  A doctor working in 1980s East Germany finds herself banished to a small country hospital.


Movie poster featuring attractive couple in thoughtful posesWednesday, March 18 @ 7:00 PM: El secreto de sus ojos (The secret in their eyes)


Spanish with English subtitles, 2009.   A retired legal counselor writes a novel hoping to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases and for his unreciprocated love with his superior.

Movie poster featuring cartoon bear and mouseThursday, March 19 @  7:00 PM: Ernest et Célestine


French with English subtitles, 2012.  The story of an unlikely friendship between a bear, Ernest, and a young mouse named Célestine.  Animated film.


The festival, now in its fifth year, is organized by ATU faculty members Dr. Nelson Ramìrez, professor of Spanish; Dr. Lowell Lybarger, associate librarian; and Philippe Van Houtte, associate librarian and visiting lecturer of French.

For more information about the festival, including posters, ratings, summaries, and film trailers, visit the International Film Festival website.  Or follow the library on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more events and programs.

Explore Abandoned Arkansas on Monday, February 10th

Poster for the Abandoned Arkansas announcing times and locaitonJoin the Ross Pendergraft Library on Monday, Feb. 10th at 7:00 P.M. in RPL 300A as we take a trip through the state’s forgotten places with authors Ginger Beck and Michael Schwarz who will discuss their book, Abandoned Arkansas: An Echo From the Past. As part of the Library’s Second Monday Author series, we are featuring two local authors who will share their adventures and photographs of once popular destinations which now lie in ruins throughout the state.

Book cover for featured book, Abandoned ArkansasExplore the forgotten history of the Natural State, from the Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs to Dogpatch near Jasper in Newton County. Abandoned Arkansas weaves historical background and photographs from the past alongside their heartbreaking pictures of ruin from the present.  Through historic documentation, these photographers hope to immortalize the stories of the places they visit beyond the building’s finite lifespan, and to preserve an echo from the past.

For more information on their work, as well as photographs of more than 150 locations they have visited, see their website, Abandoned Arkansas, at

For more information about this event or the Second Monday Author series, contact Luke Heffley at (479) 964-0546 or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to stay in the loop on all Library events.

Be Discovered With the Online Research Commons @ ATU

Tired of your research not getting noticed?  Worried that your work will not be valued, shared, or read by the rest of the world?  The Ross Pendergraft Library has created Tech’s very own institutional repository designed to showcase ATU faculty and student scholarly research at the Online Research Commons.

homepage of the Online Research Commons @ ATU featuring photo of Patrick Hagge

The Online Research Commons (ORC) is Tech’s repository of scholarly publications, presentations, theses, dissertations, digital collections, and institutional archives.  It seeks to bring together all of a university’s research under one umbrella with an aim to preserve and provide access to that research.  Documents uploaded to the Online Research Commons are indexed in Google and GoogleScholar—making them discover-able and available to other scholars around the world.

GoogleScholar result for an article from Dr. David Blanks on Edward O. Wilson

Under “Faculty Research and Publications”, you can browse the research being produced and published by faculty at Arkansas Tech University, organized by department or discipline.   Users can also browse by Authors or search the repository by keyword.

Since the ORC launched a few months ago, only a few academic departments like Emergency Management, Physical Sciences, and History & Political Science have been populated with publications.  But as the ORC grows, it will contain citations, links to library-subscribed content, or direct PDFs to all faculty work including articles, working papers, conference proceedings, books, book chapters, technical reports, sound files, data sets, images, videos, and more from all areas at Arkansas Tech.

Authors who submit their work to the repository receive monthly reports regarding usage and downloads.  A map summary of downloads for all documents in the repository is freely available on the ORC homepage:

Map of the world detailing locations of users downloading documents from the Online Research Commons

Also included in the ORC are the full-text of all Arkansas Tech student dissertations and theses published since 2016.   It also currently includes selected issues of the digitized Arkansas Tech yearbook, Agricola.

A list of three digitized Agricolas, the official yearbook of Arkansas Tech.If you want your work to be showcased and included in the Online Research Commons, simply send a CV or list of publications to  For more information on the submission process, including what versions of publications can be included, be sure to review the Submission Guide to Online Research Commons @ ATU.  Adding to our repository is free, easy, and can be an excellent vehicle for working papers, presentations, and conference papers not published elsewhere.  So, get noticed, get discovered, and get your legacy preserved at Arkansas Tech’s Online Research Commons.

Submit Your CV


The Finals Countdown

We’re nearly there!  The final exams for Fall 2019 are on their way, and the Ross Pendergraft Library is here for you with 24-hour service, starting 7:00 AM on Wednesday, Dec. 4th, until 6:00 PM Friday, Dec. 6th.

Gif of hair bad singing finals countdown

Come by in the late, late hours for free coffee and moderately-priced printing.    We also have all the friendly services you’ve come to know and love:

You can also stay up and on top of all the news in the library by following us on Twitter (#ATUFinals)/ Facebook / Instagram.

Don’t forget, we are closed this Thursday, Nov. 28th through Saturday, Nov. 30th for the Thanksgiving holidays.  We will open again on Sunday at 1:00 PM.  The full schedule is below:

full schedule of special hours for Fall 2019

Good Luck on Finals!

POSTPONED UNTIL NOV. 18 – Hipbillies: Deep Revolution in the Arkansas Ozarks

Join us on Monday, November 18th, at 7:00 pm in RPL 300A as we welcome Dr. Jared M. Phillips, professor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, who will discuss his recent book, Hipbillies: Deep Revolution in the Arkansas Ozarks. 

book cover of Hipbillies, featuring an embroidered sunsetCounterculture flourished nationwide in the 1960s and 1970s, and while the hippies of Haight–Ashbury occupied the public eye, a faction of back to the landers were quietly creating their own haven off the beaten path in the Arkansas Ozarks.  Hipbillies combines oral histories and archival resources to weave the story of the Ozarks and its population of country beatniks into the national narrative, showing how the back to the landers engaged in “deep revolution” by sharing their ideas on rural development, small farm economy, and education with the locals—and how they became a fascinating part of a traditional region’s coming to terms with the modern world in the process.

If you have an interest in hippies, hillbillies, environmental activism, solar energy, farmer’s markets, or the history of the Ozarks, you don’t want to miss this talk.  Read more about Hipbillies in this article from the Arkansas Times or check out a copy from the Ross Pendergraft Library.

Photo of Jared PhillipsJared Phillips is an assistant professor of international studies at the University of Arkansas and specializes in the history of U.S. foreign policy and U.S.-Sino relations in the late twentieth century.  He lives and works on a small farm outside of Prairie Grove.

This event is part of the Second Monday Author Series, featuring local authors from the university, region, or state. Copies of Hipbillies will be available for purchase.

For more information (479) 964-0546 or This event is free and accessible to the public.

Desserts and Databases

This Friday, November 1st, from 3:00-3:30 in RCB 147, join us for a quick demonstration of the library’s latest database for statistics and data visualization: Sage State and Local Stats.  Cookies will be provided.

SAGE State and Local Stats is a data download and visualization tool hosting social science data about U.S. States, counties, cities, and metropolitan statistical areas from more than 600 data series, including governmental and non-governmental sources.  It spans topics like employment, crime, religion, and education.

Screnshot of open page of Sage Stats with graph of internet access and poverty

This tool is best for any research paper or classroom when you need to examine statistics across time, location, and across other data sets.

To begin using Sage Stats, search by keyword at the top or browse by topic, location, or zip code.   Let’s say you are interested in the percent of population with a Bachelor’s Degree or more by state:

Map from Sage Stats showing the U.S. States and percentages of people with Bachelor's Degrees.

You can switch between Map, Table, or Chart view:

A line chart comparing the percentage of people with degrees in Arkansas compared to national average, over the last 15 years.

You can then add more data to your charts, compare data with other states or other data series with a scatter plot.  In this example, we have compared the above data with Average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of each sample:

A scatter chart comparing percent of population with Bachelor's Degree or More and adjusted gross income of the state.

At any point, you can export your data as an image, an excel or CSV file, or as a Data Guide Powerpoint slide or PDF:

Screenshot showing how to export data from the chart as an image, as a data file, as a data guide, or to save the series to the export center to export more than one year at a time.

Users can also cite the source of data in APA, MLA, Bluebook, or Chicago, and export this into a citation manager:

Screenshot showing citation window, where one could cite data chart in APA or MLA or other citation styles

All of the data in SAGE stats is available for download so you can manipulate it however you want. With over 606 data-series in a variety of categories, there’s enough to satisfy any data analysis appetite. 

For more questions about SAGE Stats or to find out if oatmeal cookies should really be considered a cookie, ask us at  Otherwise, join us for cookies and databases this Friday!

Haunted Sites at Arkansas Tech University

Flyer for haunted sites featuring grayed out images of the buildings of Tucker, Caraway, and WitherspoonHave you heard of the ghostly piano player at Witherspoon?  Have you felt a cold presence in Caraway Hall?  Are you worried that your classroom was built on an old Cherokee burial ground?  Does Tucker terrify you?  Prepare to be creeped out on Monday, October 28th at 7:00 in RPL 300A as we welcome a guest presentation from Amy Milliken on the spooky stories and folklore centered around several historic buildings at Arkansas Tech University and other campuses around the state.

Amy is the Education Outreach Coordinator for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program at the Department of Arkansas Heritage.   This agency is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering, and preserving the stat’s cultural resources.  She will share not only historical information about the buildings and grounds, but she will also separate the myths from the facts behind the campus’s most famous ghosts and ghost stories.

This event is free and open to the public.  For more information about the event, contact Luke Heffley at 479-964-0546 or