1: Pandemic

Cat SearsIn this, our first episode, Tom talks with fiction writer Cat Ennis Sears about a trio of stories set during the 1918 flu pandemic.

Cat’s stories, enriched by her careful research, present three lives changed forever by the deadly virus:  a soldier in South Carolina, an Irish immigrant working as a street conductor, and a bereaved housewife forced to leave her cabin on the Manitoba prairie to seek work as a “mill girl.”


Listen to Episode 1 Episode 1: Pandemic

Listen to "You Stopped Galloping" Cat reads her story, “You Stopped Galloping.”

Image Gallery

View images image #2 image #3 image #4 image #5 image #6 image #7 image #8 image #9 image #10 image #11 image #12 image #13 image #14of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.

About Our Guest

Cat Ennis Sears recently graduated from Emerson College with an M.F.A in fiction writing, where she taught freshman composition and research writing. Her stories have appeared in Chicago Quarterly ReviewBateau, and Printer’s Devil Review; another is forthcoming in Corium Magazine. She received honorable mention in a Glimmer Train short fiction contest and was nominated for the 2011 AWP Intro Journal Awards. She is at work on a collection of historical short stories.


Listen Recording of a conversation with a 77 year old man from the Ozarks area of northwest Arkansas, recorded in 1983.  After a discussion of the Civil War, the man relates what it was like living through the 1918 flu epidemic (he begins discussing this topic at 5 minutes 20 seconds). From the Library of Congress, Archive of Folk Culture.

Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics. This online collection, developed by Harvard University Libraries, provides general background information on diseases and epidemics worldwide, and is organized around significant episodes of contagious disease.  A section of the collection is devoted to the 1918 Flu Epidemic.

Influenza 1918.  A PBS film in The American Experience series devoted to the 1918 epidemic.

The Deadly Virus. An online exhibit of images and documents from the U.S. National Archives.

Women Working, 1800-1930.  An online collection focusing on women’s role in the United States economy; it provides access to digitized historical, manuscript, and image resources selected from Harvard University’s library and museum collections.

2009 H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu). Page on this year’s swine flu virus, maintained and regularly updated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

PLoS Currents: Influenza. For the more science-minded, the Public Library of Science is maintaining a moderated collection for rapid and open sharing of scientific results and ideas related to the H1N1 influenza epidemic.

Schlesinger Library.  The library’s principal holdings date from the founding of the United States to the present and are especially rich in the areas of women’s rights movements, feminism, health, social reform, education, professional life, volunteer and civic efforts, family relationships, and travel.

Massachusetts Historical Society. The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) is an independent research library and manuscript repository. Its holdings encompass millions of rare and unique documents and artifacts vital to the study of American history, many of them irreplaceable national treasures. A few examples include correspondence between John and Abigail Adams, such as her famous “Remember the ladies”; several imprints of the Declaration of Independence; and Thomas Jefferson’s architectural drawings.


Aronson, Virginia. The Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000.

Bollet, Alfred Jay. Plagues and Poxes: The Impact of Human History on Epidemic Disease. New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2004.

Crosby, Alfred W. America‚Äôs Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918. 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Getz, David. Purple Death: The Mysterious Flu of 1918. New York: Henry Holy and Company, 2000.

Porter, Katherine Anne. Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Three Short Novels. New York: Modern Library, 1998.

Ramen, Fred. Epidemics: Deadly Diseases Throughout History. Influenza. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2001.



What a exceptional story,

What a exceptional story, beautifully written and lyrical. Great deal of emotion is generated not only from the prose, but from the vocal of the authors reading.

Terrific start to this Podcast. Truly looking forward to other chapters.

I think it sounds like hard

I think it sounds like hard work and fun, going to do research about historical disasters. Thanks for the podcast; really enjoyed thinking about the historical period, her authorship of it and your questions to her.

Woo, Cat! Great story. And

Woo, Cat! Great story. And what a well done show, kudos CNC folks!

A very nice start! Mm-mmm,

A very nice start! Mm-mmm, democratizing goodness. As I would expect from you, the page for this episode is chuck full of useful extra information and leads, which is a welcome improvement over the one or two linear "would you like to know more?" links in many other podcasts. Keep that up. I'm looking forward to the next one.

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