Published Date

March 29, 2021

Resource Type

AHA Resource, For the Classroom, Vetted Resource


Cultural, Current Events in Historical Context, Diplomatic/International

AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning


Asia, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, World

This resource is part of the AHA’s Bibliography of Historians’ Responses to COVID-19.


Past Pandemics and Epidemics


Historicizing Pandemics

Isaac Chotiner, “How Pandemics Change History,” The New Yorker (March 3, 2020)

Mary Ellen Gabriel, “Lessons from Past Epidemics,” College of Letters & Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison (March 17, 2020)

Chris Horn, “COVID-19 impact: The history of plague and contagion,” University of South Carolina (March 19, 2020)

Alexandre R. White, “Historical linkages: epidemic threat, economic risk, and xenophobia,” The Lancet (March 27, 2020)

Jacob Steere-Williams, “Commentary: Start Remembering This Pandemic Now,” The Post and Courier (March 28, 2020)

Debora Van Brenk, “Learning from echoes of past plagues, poxes, flus,” Medical Xpress (March 30, 2020)

Dan Dickison, “History Professor Sheds Light on Past Pandemics,” The College Today (April 13, 2020)

Meilan Solly, “What We Can Learn from 1918 Influenza Diaries,” Smithsonian Magazine (April 13, 2020)

Paula Findlen, “What Would Boccaccio Say About COVID-19?”  Boston Review (April 24, 2020)

Katharine Sharp Landdeck, “Why We Should All Be Keeping Coronavirus Journals,” Time (April 24, 2020)

Timothy Newfield, “Nothing was the same: Historical parallels for the coronavirus should be avoided like the plague,” The Globe and Mail (April 24, 2020)

David S. Jones, “History in a Crisis—Lessons for Covid-19,” New England Journal of Medicine (April 30, 2020)

Elliot Bowen, “Of Plagues and Papers: COVID-19, the Media, and the Construction of American Disease History,” Clio and the Contemporary (May 1, 2020)

John Fabian Witt, “The Law of Salus Populi: Epidemics and the Law,” The Yale Review (May 1, 2020)

Marc Parry, “Historical Archives Once Silenced Marginalized Voices. Now Pandemic Archivists Want Them to Be Heard.” The Chronicle of Higher Education (May 3, 2020)

Susanna Throop and Morgana Olbrich, “Analyzing the Past in the Present: The Black Death, COVID-19, and the Ursinus Quest,” Department of History Ursinus College (May 11, 2020

Zoltán Boldizsár Simon, “Events of Disruptive Transformation,” Somatosphere (May 14, 2020)

Alizah Holstein, “I’m a historian who has studied the Black Death. During my coronavirus quarantine, I thought, ‘Will people fear us?'” MarketWatch (May 26, 2020)

“Interview / Michael Meranze,” Canadian Association of University Teachers (May 28, 2020)

Stephanie Snow and Angela Whitecross, “Connecting Voices in a Time of Crisis: NHS at 70 and Covid-19,” Oral History Review (May 29, 2020)

“According to history professor, COVID-19-is historic because of world response, not numbers,” “Perspectives,” The College of Liberal Arts, University of Auburn (May 29, 2020) 

David Northrup, “Teaching Pandemics in World History,” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

John Aberth, “Comparing Covid-19 to the Black Death in Europe,” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

Mufutau Oluwasegun Jimoh, “From Malaria to Covid-19: Historicizing Disease Outbreaks in Lagos,” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

Philippa Levine, “Will We Ever Learn to Use History as a Guide?” The Hill (June 17, 2020)

Lincoln Paine, “2020: Putting Our Pandemic in Perspective,” Engelsberg Ideas (June 30, 2020)

Jim Harris, “Pandemics: Today and Yesterday,” Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective (July 1, 2020)

Christopher McKnight Nichols, Nancy Bristow, E. Thomas Ewing, Joseph M. Gabriel, Benjamin C. Montoya, and Elizabeth Outka, “Reconsidering the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic in the Age of COVID-19,” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (July 23, 2020)

Erica Charters and Richard A. McKay, “The History of Science and Medicine in the Context of COVID-19,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Erica Charters and Koen Vermeir eds., “Spotlight Issue: Histories of Epidemics in the Time of COVID-19,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

David S. Jones, “COVID-19, History, and Humility,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Margaret Pelling, “‘Bosom Vipers’: Endemic Versus Epidemic Disease,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

William C. Summers, “Pandemic Responses Suffer from Common Ailments,” ChinaFile (July 27, 2020)

Nükhet Varlık, “Rethinking the History of Plague in the Time of COVID-19,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Nükhet Varlık, “The Plague That Never Left: Restoring the Second Pandemic to Ottoman and Turkish History in the Time of COVID-19,” New Perspectives on Turkey (September 22, 2020)

Gerard Fitzgerald, “Martin Arrowsmith Travels to St. Hubert: Remembering a Public Health Past and Constructing a Future during COVID-19,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Frank Uekötter, “In Order to Understand COVID-19, Historians Need to Leave Their Academic Silos,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Richard Vinen, Claire Langhamer, and Kevin Siena, “The 2020 Historical Research Lecture-Writing Histories of 2020: First Responses and Early Perspectives,” Historical Research (November 1, 2020)

Warwick Anderson, “The Way We Live Now?” Isis (December 2, 2020)

Merle Eisenberg and Lee Mordechai, “The Justinianic Plague and Global Pandemics: The Making of the Plague Concept,” The American Historical Review (December 17, 2020)

Monica H. Green, “The Four Black Deaths,” The American Historical Review (December 17, 2020)

Videos and Podcasts:

“Coronavirus: a historical perspective,” HistoryExtra Podcast (March 16, 2020)

“Dateline New Haven: Yale Historians Put Pandemic In Context,” New Haven Independent (March 17, 2020)

“Does 1918 Even Apply Here?” Slate Podcasts (March 25, 2020)

“Episode 124: “The “Spanish” Influenza of 1918-1920,” 15 Minute History (March 25, 2020)

“Historical Perspectives on Contemporary Issues” Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine (March 26, 2020 – June 30, 2020)

“Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Epidemics in History,” JAMA Network (April 2, 2020)

“Research Symposium: Reporting, Recording, and Remembering the 1918 Influenza Epidemic,” NIH VideoCast (April 29, 2020)

Cindy Ermus and Michael Willrich, “Pandemic Amnesia,” Cited Podcast (May 7, 2020)

“Pandemics in Historical Perspective,” Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research (May 8, 2020)

“The Mother of All Pandemics: The State of Black Death Research in the Era of Covid-19” The Medieval Academy of America (May 15, 2020)

Jo Hays, Frank Snowden, and Elizabeth Fenn, “How Epidemics and Pandemics Have Changed History,” Rear Vision with Annabelle Quince and Keri Phillips (May 17, 2020)

Nükhet Varlık, “Nükhet Varlık on Plague, Public Health, and Healing in the Ottoman Empire,” The Global History Podcast (June 2, 2020)

Nükhet Varlık, “Why the History of Past Pandemics Matters Now,” Nextopic (July 23, 2020)

Monica H. Green,  “Monica H. Green on The Four Black Deaths,” AHR Interview (December 16, 2020)

Merle Eisenberg and Lee Mordechai, “Merle Eisenberg and Lee Mordechai on the Plague Concept,” AHR Interview (January 1, 2021)

Keith Wailoo, “How Do Pandemics Change Societies? A Historian Weighs in,” All Things Considered (March 11, 2021)

Colonialism and Empire

Elif Selin Calik, “Plague and Empire… is a timely look at the Ottoman experience of epidemics,” Middle East Monitor (April 3, 2020) 

Sheetal Chhabria, “Manufacturing Epidemics: Pathogens, Poverty, and Public Health Crises in India,” The India Forum (May 6, 2020)

Maura Chhun, “‘A Good Winter Rain Will Put Everything Right’: The British Government in India’s Response to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and Famine,” The Middle Ground (May 29, 2020)

Oluwatoyin B. Oduntan, “The Covid-19 Pandemic in Africa’s Cultural Cross-Roads,” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, “‘Never Was History So Interesting’: Reading, Writing, and Confinement in 1900,” The American Scholar (July 25, 2020)

Anne-Emanuelle Birn, “How to Have Narrative-Flipping History in a Pandemic: Views of/from Latin America,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Tony Yeboah, Jennifer Hart, Nate Plageman, “Architecting a ‘New Normal’? Past Pandemics and the Medicine of Urban Planning,” Nursing Clio (August 18, 2020)

Zachary Dorner, “How Early Modern Empire Changed Medicine,” Boston Review (September 22, 2020)

Isacar A. Bolaños, “Pandemics in Ottoman History,” Origins (September 23, 2020)

David Arnold, “Pandemic India: Coronavirus and the Uses of History,” in The Pandemic: Perspectives on Asia (December 2020)

Videos and Podcasts:

Michael Vann, “Hanoi in the Time of Cholera during French Colonial Rule with Author and Professor Michael Vann,” Chopsticks Alley (May 21, 2020)

“Unsettling Knowledge #3: Anticolonialism and Pandemics,” Utrecht University (May 29, 2020)

Merle Eisenberg and Lee Mordechai, “Episode 28: The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt with Michael Vann,” Infectious Historians (September 25, 2020)



Disparities and Diseases in Global Context

Kalyani Ramnath, “Temporary,” Visualizing Climate and Loss 

Amir A. Afhami, “Pandemics Ravaged Iran Long before the Coronavirus,” Foreign Affairs (March 2, 2020)

Robert Peckham, “COVID-19 and the Anti-Lessons of History,” The Lancet (March 2, 2020)

Amir A. Afhami, “Why Iran Is Such a Coronavirus Threat,” (March 3, 2020)

Michael Young, “Politics and the Pandemic,” Diwan (March 16, 2020)

Donna Honarpisheh, “For Iranians, Coronavirus Quarantine Not That Novel,” Jadaliyya (March 20, 2020)

Joan Flores-Villalobos, “Black Deaths and Black Mourning in the Time of Coronavirus,” Black Perspectives (April 20, 2020)

Debjani Bhattacharyya and Banu Subramaniam, “Technofascism in India,” n+1 Magazine (May 13, 2020)

Claudio Pinheiro and Vinicus Ferreira, “Brazil, History, and the Limits of the Future: Notes on Thinking and Teaching in the Time of Corona(virus),” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

John Aberth, “Coronavirus in Historical Perspective: What Lessons Can We Learn From the 1918-1919 Flu Pandemic?” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

Jennifer Hart, “Workers at the Economic Margins Bear COVID-19’s Costs Globally,” The Washington Post (July 15, 2020)

P. Wenzel Geissler and Ruth J. Prince, “Layers of Epidemy: Present Pasts during the First Weeks of COVID-19 in Western Kenya,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)  

Mark Bookman, “The Coronavirus Crisis: Disability Politics and Activism in Contemporary Japan,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (September 15, 2020)

Mary Augusta Brazelton, “Viral Reflections: Placing China in Global Health Histories,” The Journal of Asian Studies (October 5, 2020)

Gregg Mitman, “The Unruliness of a Virus,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Liza Piper, “Pandemic Relations,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Liam James Kingsley, “Coronavirus and the Lost Legacy of the AIDS Epidemic,” The Republic (November 2, 2020)

Kenneth Pomeranz, “Afterword: Lives Interrupted, Trends Continued?” in The Pandemic: Perspectives on Asia (December 2020)

Mytheli Sreenivas, “The Deep Roots of India’s COVID-19 Crisis,” Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective (May 13, 2021)

Videos and Podcasts:

“Virtual Policy Forum Iran’s Coronavirus Crisis Implications for U.S. Policy,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, (April 13, 2020)

“Another Conversation with Amir Afkhami—COVID-19 Edition,” talk iran (April 18, 2020)

“What lessons can the history of Ebola in West Africa offer as we face the COVID-19 pandemic?” Ask a Historian (May 11, 2020)

Comparative Public Health Responses

Wayne Soon and Ja Ian Chong, “What History Teaches About the Coronavirus Emergency,” The Diplomat (February 12, 2020)

Spencer Strub, “Illness & Crisis, from Medieval Plague Tracts to Covid-19,” The New York Review (March 25, 2020)

Gregg A. Brazinsky, “South Korea is winning the fight against covid-19. The U.S. is failing,” The Washington Post (April 10, 2020)

Joelle M. Abi-Rached and Ishac Diwan, “In poor countries, focus on protecting the elderly from Covid-19,” Medium (April 10, 2020)

Joelle M. Abi-Rached and Ishac Diwan, “Killer lockdowns,” Economic Research Forum (April 21, 2020)

Timothy Kent Holliday, “Writing Histories of Intimate Care and Social Distancing in the Age of COVID-19,” Nursing Clio (April 29, 2020)

Joelle M. Abi-Rached and Ishac Diwan, “Lebanon: Managing Covid-19 in the Time of Revolution,” Arab Reform Initiative (May 7, 2020)

Amir A. Afkhami, “Iran’s strategy for fighting covid-19 could backfire,” The Washington Post (May 27, 2020)

Angela Ki Che Leung, “Chinese State and Society in Epidemic Governance: A Historical Perspective,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Florence Bretelle-Establet, “Science, Demons, and Gods in the Battle against the COVID-19 Epidemic,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Frédéric Keck, “Asian Tigers and the Chinese Dragon: Competition and Collaboration between Sentinels of Pandemics from SARS to COVID-19,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Luiz Teixeira and Luis Alves, “To Let Die: COVID-19 and the Banalization of Evil,” Nursing Clio (July 14, 2020)

Robert Peckham, “War of the Worlds: Covid-19 and Pandemic Belligerence,” Items (August 13, 2020)  

Jacob Steere-Williams, “Pandemics Past and Present Provide Context for Coronavirus,” The Post and Courier (September 14, 2020)

Mart A. Stewart, “Marking the Boundaries of Contagion: Vietnam and COVID-19,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Warwick Anderson, “The Philippine Covidscape: Colonial Public Health Redux?” Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints (November 14, 2020)

Alexis Dudden, “Masks, Science, and Being Foreign: Japan during the Initial Phase of COVID-19,” in The Pandemic: Perspectives on Asia (December 2020)

Ravinder Kaur and Sumathi Ramaswamy, “The Goddess and the Virus,” in The Pandemic: Perspectives on Asia (December 2020)

Pamela Maddock and Warwick Anderson, “Standing up Straighter against COVID-19?” Arena Quarterly (December 2020)

Wayne Soon, “From SARS to COVID-19: Rethinking Global Health Lessons from Taiwan,” East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal (January 27, 2021)

Videos and Podcasts:

“On the Front Lines: How Public Health Systems are Confronting the Covid19 Crisis in the Middle East,” Middle East Institute, (April 16, 2020)

Environment and Disease

Laura J. Martin, “The Coronavirus and Climate Action,” Observations (April 10, 2020)

Lisa Diedrich, “The Cruise Ship as Disease Heterotopia,” Nursing Clio (May 5, 2020)

Kalyani Ramnath, “Temporary,” Visualizing Climate and Loss (2020)  

Donald Worster, “Another Silent Spring,” Origins (October 2020)

Peter Alagona, “All of Us, Animals,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Jane Carruthers, “Looking at Butterflies,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Michèle Dagenais, “Revealing the Significance of the Environment: Connecting the Dots in Montreal,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Dolly Jørgensen, “Tracking Animals in a Pandemic,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Claudia Leal, “A Matter of Time,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Libby Robin, “Bunkering down in the New Normal,Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Kara Murphy Schlichting and Melanie A. Kiechle, “Invisible Inequalities: Persistent Health Threats in the Urban Built Environment,” Journal for the History of Environment and Society (December 23, 2020)

Warwick Anderson, “Think Like a Virus,” Public Books (January 7, 2021)

Videos and Podcasts:

Joelle Abi-Rached, A. Taylor Brand, Christopher Rose, Seçil Yilmaz, and the Environment Page Editors, “Middle East History in the Time of COVID-19: A Roundtable on Disease, Environment, and Medicine,” Jadaliyya (June 9, 2020)  

Health and Human Rights

Katharine R. Peeler and Scott H. Podosky, “COVID-19, Asylum, and False Binaries of Detention,” Health and Human Rights Journal (June 9, 2020)  

Shen Hou, “In the Name of Health,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Globalization and Disease

Kari Brossard Stoos and Heather Dichter, “Will Coronavirus Cancel the Olympics and Other Big Sporting Events?” The Washington Post (March 5, 2020)

Andrew Liu, “‘Chines Virus’ World Market,” n+1 Magazine (March 20, 2020)

Frank Uekötter, “The End of Storytelling as We Know It: How World Historians Can Help People Make Sense of the Coronavirus Pandemic,” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

Ibtisam M. Abujad, “Decolonizing the Pandemic: Transnational Pedagogy and Affective Histories in the Composition and Research Class,” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

Jeremy Adelman, Or Rosenboim, Jamie Martin, Cindy Ewing, and Akita Shigeru, “Toynbee Coronavirus Series-Global History Forum,” Toynbee Prize Foundation (June 16, 2020)

Monica H. Green, “Emerging Diseases, Re-Emerging Histories,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Kate McDonald, “Olympic Recoveries,” The Journal of Asian Studies (October 5, 2020)

John McNeill, “Bats, Battiness, and the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Vinayak Chaturvedi, “Introduction: A Pandemic Without History,” in The Pandemic: Perspectives on Asia (December 2020)

Videos and Podcasts:

Erica Charters, Claudia Agostoni, Diego Armus, and Anne-Emanuelle Birn, “Globalization and the History of Epidemics in Latin America,” TORCH Oxford (April 30, 2020)