Published Date

March 27, 2021


Cultural, Current Events in Historical Context, Diplomatic/International, Economic, Legal, Medicine, Science, & Technology, Political, State & Local (US), Urban

AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning


Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, United States, World

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


Past Pandemics and Epidemics


The Politics of Pandemics

Robert Peckham, “I’ve Studied the History of Viral Outbreaks. Coronavirus Panic Shows How Little China Learned from SARS,” The Independent (January 30, 2020)

Graham Mooney, “Quarantine is one of the oldest powers in the book. That doesn’t mean governments should use it to fight coronavirus,” The Globe and Mail (March 6, 2020)

Laura Spinney, “The World Changed Its Approach to Health After the 1918 Flu,” Time (March 7, 2020)

Cindy Ermus, “The Danger of Prioritizing Politics and Economics during the Coronavirus Outbreak,” The Washington Post (March 13, 2020)

Melissa Reynolds, “Communication Failures in a Pandemic Can Be Catastrophic,” The Washington Post (March 18, 2020)

Jim Downs, “The Epidemics America Got Wrong,” The Atlantic (March 22, 2020)

Alexandre I.R. White and Katrina Quisumbing King, “The U.S. has an ugly history of blaming ‘foreigners’ for disease,” The Washington Post (March 24, 2020)

Paul M. Renfro, “Coronavirus is different from AIDS,” The Washington Post (April 6, 2020)

Farren Yero, “When Politics Go Viral: COVID-19 and Lessons from the Atlantic World,” The Panorama (April 24, 2020) 

Jim Harris, “The Crucial Difference between the 1918 Flu and Covid-19,” The Washington Post (May 11, 2020)

George H. Nash, “Coronavirus Pandemic: A Historical Perspective,” National Review (May 11, 2020)

Graham Mooney, “How to Talk About Freedom During a Pandemic,” The Atlantic (May 19, 2020)

Cindy Ermus, “When Bubonic Plague Hit France in 1720, Officials Dithered. Sound Familiar?” STAT (May 25, 2020)  

Rachel Constance, “Cholera and the Politics of Prevention,” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

Andrew Wehrman, “Early Americans Knew Better than President Trump How to Prioritize Health,” The Washington Post (July 17, 2020)

Benoît Pouget, “Quarantine, Cholera, and International Health Spaces: Reflections on 19th-Century European Sanitary Regulations in the Time of SARS-CoV-2,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Brian Dolan, “It Wasn’t Supposed to Be a Coronavirus: The Quest for an Influenza A(H5N1)-Derived Vaccine and the Limits of Pandemic Preparedness,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

John Henderson, “The Invisible Enemy: Fighting the Plague in Early Modern Italy,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Videos and Podcasts:

“Contagion and the State: Epidemic Disease and the Social Contract with Peter Baldwin,” The History of Now (March 30, 2020)

Mariola Espinosa, “Pandemic Insights: Mariola Espinosa, Medical Historian, Reflects on Lessons of Yellow Fever,” The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies (April 13, 2020)

Local Government

Erin Maglaque, “Inclined to Putrefaction,London Review of Books (February 20, 2020)

John M. Barry, “The Single Most Important Lesson From the 1918 Influenza,” The New York Times (March 17, 2020) 

Doug Kenck-Crispin, “A Century Ago, Portland Faced a Health Crisis That Now Sounds Eerily Familiar,” Willamette Week (March 24, 2020)

Christopher McKnight Nichols, “President Trump’s Desire to Reopen Businesses Quickly is Dangerous,” The Washington Post (March 25, 2020)

Christopher McKnight Nichols, “Oregon Response to Flu in 1918 Offers Insights for Coronavirus Fight in 2020,” The Oregonian (April 5, 2020)

J. Alexander Navarro and Howard Markel, “To save lives, social distancing must continue longer than we expect,” The Washington Post (April 8, 2020)

Jeffrey Anderson and Janet Golden, “The Local Impact of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic in Philadelphia,” History News Network (April 12, 2020)

Lorna Ebner, “Quarantine in Nineteenth-Century New York,” Books, Health, and History (April 14, 2020)

Paige Winfield, “The Health 202: Twelve takeaways from the 1918 flu epidemic that help us think about the novel coronavirus,” The Washington Post (April 20, 2020)

Jacob Steere-Williams, “Charleston Learned the Hard Way What Happens When You End a Quarantine Too Soon,” The Post and Courier (April 25, 2020)

Scott Podosky, “‘Some New Kind of Infection or Plague:’ The 1918 Flu Pandemic & COVID-19,” Center for Primary Care Harvard Medical School (May 14, 2020)

Catherine DeCesare, “Pandemic Policy Parallels: Rhode Island Perspective,” University of Rhode Island Social Science Institute for Research, Education, and Policy (May 22, 2020)

Judith W. Leavitt and Lewis A. Leavitt, “Epidemics are powerful agents of change,” Democratic Socialists of America  (June 3, 2020)

Jessica Brabble, Ariel Ludwig, E. Thomas Ewing, “‘The Mask Law Will Be Rigidly Enforced’: Ordinances, Arrests, and Celebrations during the 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic,” Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (August 11, 2020)

Mimi Eisen, “The COVID-19 Pandemic in Historical Perspective,” History Associates Incorporated

Presidential Leadership

Joyce Chaplin, “Even Andrew Jackson Showed More Leadership than Donald Trump in a Pandemic,” The Washington Post (April 1, 2020)

Dave Welky, “The President vs. The Epidemic: FDR’s Polio Crusade,” History News Network (April 12, 2020) 

Nicholas William Moll, “Learning from History: Cycles of Disease in Australia,” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

Economic Impacts

Elena Conis, “What History’s Economy-Disrupting Outbreaks Can Teach Us About Coronavirus Panic,” Time (March 9, 2020)



State Capacity and Public Health

Mical Raz, “Doctors and hospitals are struggling financially in a pandemic. Here’s why.” The Washington Post (March 11, 2020)

Mark R. Wilson, “The 5 WWII Lessons That Could Help the Government Fight Coronavirus,” Politico (March 23, 2020)  

Mical Raz, “Yes, covid-19 treatment free for all. But that’s not enough.” The Washington Post (April 1, 2020)  

Daniela Blei, “In 19th-Century America, Fighting Disease Meant Battling Bad Smells,” Atlas Obscura (April 8, 2020)

Beatrix Hoffman,  “The U.S. Cannot Afford Not to Provide Health Insurance for Everyone-And This Pandemic Proves It,” Newsweek (April 8, 2020)

Melanie A. Kiechle, “Public health isn’t the enemy of economic well-being,” The Washington Post (April 24, 2020)

Johann N. Neem, “The next victim of the coronavirus? American exceptionalism,” The Washington Post (May 3, 2020)

Philippa Levine, “Letting ‘Nature Run Its Course’ on COVID-19 Ignores What Led to This Economic Mess,” The Hill (May 20, 2020)

Lara Freidenfelds, “Conservative fatalism about the coronavirus might actually help us,” The Washington Post (May 21, 2020)

Nic John Ramos, “Solving our urban crisis involves addressing hospitals in addition to policing,”  The Washington Post (June 1, 2020)

Michael A. Dennis and Anand Toprani, “An Alternative/Alternate History of the U.S. Response to COVID-19,” The Strategy Bridge (June 23, 2020)

Tess Lanzarotta and Alka Menon, “Public Health Needs the Mail: The Surprising History of the USPS Delivering Vaccines and Drugs,” Slate Magazine (September 2, 2020)

Christopher Sellers, “Back to the Future,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Videos and Podcasts:

Scott Gabriel Knowles, “COVID-19, Race, Health, & the Hospital Crisis: Nic John Ramos and Dannie Ritchie,” Scott Gabriel Knowles-COVID-Calls (June 12, 2020) 

The Role of the Federal Government

Edward J.K. Gitre, “Social Distancing Won’t Happen Until Governments Order It,The Washington Post (March 17, 2020)

Peter A. Shulman, “President Trump Must Act Immediately to Protect Doctors and Nurses From COVID-19,” The Washington Post (March 22, 2020)

Teal Arcadi and Casey Eilbert, “Dismantling the federal bureaucracy has left us all vulnerable to covid-19,” The Washington Post (March 24, 2020) 

Naomi Oreskes, “We Need Big Government to Save Us From the Pandemic,” Time (March 25, 2020) 

Robert Peckham, “Past Pandemics Exposed China’s Weaknesses-The Current One Highlights Its Strengths,” Foreign Affairs (March 27, 2020)

Stephen Mihm, Mark Wilson, Mark Harrison, and Rosella Cappella Zielinski, “How to Battle the Coronavirus and Win: A Historians’ Roundtable,” BloombergQuint (March 29, 2020)

Colin Gordon and Sarah K. Bruch, “COVID-19 Is Exposing the United States’ Ragged, Shameful Safety Net,” Jacobin (April 21, 2020)

Ari Schriber, “A Precedent for the Unprecedented: Historical Reflections on Plague, Quarantine, and Islamic Law in Morocco,” Islamic Law Blog (April 22, 2020)

Eric Rauchway, “Roosevelt’s New Deal offered hope in desperate times. We can do the same now,” The Guardian (May 20, 2020) 

Videos and Podcasts:

Robert Peckham, “Can We Overcome Pandemics?” Bloomberg (February 24, 2020)

Presidential Leadership

Michael J. Socolow, “How the Fireside Chat Provided a Model for Calming the Nation that President Trump Failed to Follow,” The Conversation (March 11, 2020)

Erik B. Alexander, “Beating covid-19 demands President Trump work with, not against, governors,” The Washington Post (April 3, 2020)

Michael J. Socolow, “The Media Must Make It Easier to Track President Trump’s Covid-19 Failures,” The Washington Post (April 20, 2020)

Federico Finchelstein, “The danger of President Trump’s lies amid the coronavirus and urban uprisings,” The Washington Post (June 3, 2020) 

Scott Laderman, “Anti-intellectualism Is Killing Us,” Duluth News Tribune (April 1, 2020)

Ylva Söderfeldt and Mariacarla Gadebusch Bondio, “‘A Sanitary War’: Corona, Medical Power(lessness) and Responsibilization,” Vigilanzkulturen Working Papers (May 5, 2020)

William Johnston, “Compared to Other ‘Wartime Presidents,’ Trump’s Record Stands Apart,” Hartford Courant (July 26, 2020)

Allan M. Winkler, “Mobilizing for Common Purpose in the Covid Era,” Origins (July 26, 2020)

Sandro Dutra e Silva, “The Blooming of May in a Firestorm of Stupidity: Pandemic, Environment, and Politics in Contemporary Brazil,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Economic Impacts

Adam Tooze, “We’ve never been here before,” The Washington Post (March 25, 2020) 

Gabriel N. Rosenberg, “The Government Must Pay People to Stay Home,” The Washington Post (March 29, 2020)

Daniel Mandell, “The Founders supported strong economic regulations in moments of crisis,” The Washington Post (May 7, 2020) 

Joshua R. Greenberg, “Will Covid-19 end the use of paper money?” The Washington Post (May 15, 2020)

Anya Jabour, “The Depression-Era Lessons that Can Solve Today’s Eviction Crisis,” The Washington Post (September 4, 2020)

International Relations

Philip Thai, “The proven solution to pandemics that President Trump continues to reject,” The Washington Post  (May 19, 2020)  

Thomas Zimmer, “Defunding or quitting the World Health Organization won’t fix it-or solve covid-19,” The Washington Post (May 20, 2020)

Videos and Podcasts:

Susan Kelly, “COVID-19 impact: Barry Strauss on the historical perspective,” Cornell Chronicle (May 13, 2020) 

Mark Kramer and Douglas Selvage, “Lessons from Operation ‘Denver,’ the KGB’s Massive AIDS Disinformation Campaign,” The MIT Press Reader (May 26, 2020)