Published Date

March 21, 2021

Resource Type

AHA Resource, For the Classroom, Vetted Resource


Current Events in Historical Context, Medicine, Science, & Technology

AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning


United States, World

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


Past Pandemics and Epidemics


Vaccinations and Medications

Zachary Dorner, “The Origins of Donald Trump’s Search for a Covid-19 Miracle,” The Washington Post (April 26, 2020)

Susan M. Reverby, “‘Liberate’ yourself to be a COVID-19 Vaccine Volunteer,”  Medium (April 26, 2020) 

Marie-Amélie George, “How the fight against AIDS has shaped how potential covid-19 drugs will reach patients,” The Washington Post (April 29, 2020)

Heidi Morefield, “The potential risk of chasing a Covid-19 vaccine,” The Washington Post (May 19, 2020)

Elena Conis, Michael McCoyd, and Jessie A. Moravek, “What to Expect When a Coronavirus Vaccine Finally Arrives,” The New York Times (May 20, 2020) 

Joe Palca, “The Race for a Polio Vaccine Differed from the Quest to Prevent Coronavirus,” NPR (May 22, 2020)  

Elena Conis, “Q&A with Elena Conis,” C-SPAN (June 9, 2020)

Videos and Podcasts:

Keith Wailoo, Paul Offit, Diane Wendt, and John Grabenstein, “Pandemic Perspectives: Racing for Vaccines,” National Museum of American History (January 27, 2020)

Dora Vargha, “Polio Across the Iron Curtain: A Conversation with Dora Vargha,” Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine (March 2020)  

Dr. Josefa Steinhauer, “From smallpox to the coronavirus: The history of vaccinations explained,” NBC News (April 1, 2020)

Jill Lepore, “Jill Lepore on How a Pandemic Ends,” The New Yorker Radio Hour (May 15, 2020)

Liz Covart, René Najera, Farren Yero, Ben Mutschler, and Andrew Wehrman, “From Inoculation to Vaccination, Part 1,” Ben Franklin’s World (April 27, 2021)

Liz Covart, René Najera, Farren Yero, Ben Mutschler, and Andrew Wehrman, “From Inoculation to Vaccination, Part 2,” Ben Franklin’s World (May 11, 2021)

Medical Knowledge and Research

Merle Eisenberg and Lee Mordechai, “Why Treating the Coronavirus like the Black Death is So Dangerous,” The Washington Post (February 6, 2020)

Susan Lindee, “To beat Covid-19, the government must bring back the process that gave us penicillin,” The Washington Post (April 1, 2020) 

Anita Guerrini, “On infections parties, herd immunity and other half-truths,” History and Policy (April 8, 2020) 

Bert Hansen “The Story of Serum Therapy,” Distillations (April 28, 2020) 

Justin Barr and Scott Podolsky, “A National Medical Response to Crisis-The Legacy of World War II,” The New England Journal of Medicine (April 29, 2020)

Justin Barr, Deborah Doroshow, and Scott Podolsky, “Biomedical Research in Times of Emergency: Lessons from History,” Annals of Internal Medicine (May 7, 2020)

Mark Honigsbaum, “Revisiting the 1957 and 1968 Influenza Pandemics,” The Lancet (May 25, 2020)

Merry Wiesner-Hanks, “Teaching the Black Death,” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

Theodore J. Drizis, “A History of Virology and Current Medical Research Confront the Novel Coronavirus,” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

Ann Reid, “Decoding the 1918 Flu,” Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (July 7, 2020)

Robin Wolfe Scheffler, “A Coronavirus Vaccine Can’t Come at the Expense of Fighting the Virus Now,” The Washington Post (July 24, 2020)

Flavio D’Abramo and Sybille Neumeyer, “A Historical and Political Epistemology of Microbes,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Kristin Heitman, “Authority, Autonomy and the First London Bills of Mortality,” Centaurus (July 27, 2020)

Christian W McMillen, “Tuberculosis and the Optimism of Biomedicine,” Origins (September 24, 2020)

Elena Conis and Daniel Roman, “Epizootic: How Plague Took Hold in Western Wildlife,” Bay Nature Magazine (September 27, 2020)

Nükhet Varlik, “How Do Pandemics End? History Suggests Diseases Fade but Are Almost Never Truly Gone,” The Conversation (October 12, 2020)

Ariel Ludwig, E. Thomas Ewing, and Jessica Brabble, “Right All the Way Through: Dr. Minerva Goodman and the Stockton Mask Debate during the 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic,” Nursing Clio (April 20, 2021)

Videos and Podcasts:

Kit R. Roane, “Why History Urges Caution on Immunity Testing,” Retro Report (May 13, 2020)

Merle Eisenberg, Lee Mordechai, and Nancy Tomes, “Germ Theory and Popular Culture with Nancy Tomes,” Infectious Historians (September 3, 2020)

Scott Gabriel Knowles, Stephen Pemberton, Jason M. Chernesky, and Janet Golden, “Children, AIDS, and COVID-19,” COVIDCalls (October 14, 2020)


Graham Mooney and Jonathan Reinarz, “Hospital visiting in epidemics: an old debate reopened,” History & Policy (April 9, 2020)

Catherine Pate, “How One Hospital Handled the 1918 Influenza Epidemic,” Harvard Countway Library (April 16, 2020)

Sumiko Otsubo, “Pandemics, Past and Present: Influenza, COVID-19, Military Hospital Ships in Japan,” The Middle Ground Journal (June 5, 2020)

Videos and Podcasts:

“New York’s Hospitals, Past & Present,” Rediscovering New York With Jeff Goodman (April 14, 2020)


Patricia D’Antonio, “1918 Redux: Supportive Nursing Care for the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Courageous Care,” Echoes and Evidence (March 18, 2020)

Laura Mogulescu, “A Stern Task for Stern Women: Nursing during the 1918 Flu Pandemic,” Women at the Center (May 4, 2020)

Sam Kean, “The Nurse Who Introduced Gloves to the Operating Room,” Distillations (May 5, 2020) 

Infection Control

Sarah Eilers, “How to Wash Your Hands, Historically,” Circulating Now (April 7, 2020)

Jim Harris, “Corona in Context: Lessons from the SARS Pandemic,” Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective (May 17, 2020)

Jim Harris, “Cholera & Public Health,” Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective (June 17, 2020)

Liam Foster, “Disease in Buddhism: Literal, Spiritual, or Both?” World History Bulletin (Spring/Summer 2020)

E. Thomas Ewing, “The Last Pandemic,” Humanities (Summer 2020)

Lincoln Paine, “The History of Quarantine with Lincoln Paine,” Engelsberg Ideas (July 1, 2020)

Graham Mooney, “‘A Menace to the Public Health’-Contact Tracing and the Limits of Persuasion,” New England Journal of Medicine (November 5, 2020)

Videos and Podcasts:

NPR, “The Mask,” Throughline  (May 14, 2020)

“The Mask: Historical Reflections on Personal Protective Equipment, with Lessons for the COVID-19 Era,” Princeton University Media Central (May 29, 2020)

“The Perils of Reopening: The Plague in Marseille, 588 CE,” Newberry Library (June, 2020)

Nancy Tomes and Anthony Mason, “Over a Century Ago, Masks Were Controversial during the 1918 Flu Pandemic,” CBS This Morning (October 30, 2020)

Medical Leadership

Justin Barr, E. Shelley Hwang, and Cynthia K. Shortell, “Surgeons, plague, and leadership: A historical mantle to carry forward,” The American Journal of Surgery (April 29, 2020)

Roberto Padilla, “Ideology and Disease: Cholera, Policy and Identity during the Sino-Japanese War,” The Middle Ground Journal (June 26, 2020)

Videos and Podcasts:

Edward L. Ayers and David K. Randall, “Overcoming an Outbreak: How San Francisco Survived the Plague,” BackStory (April 9, 2020)



Medical Knowledge and Research

Robert Peckham, “A Health Emergency is No Time to Sideline the Medical Humanities,” Times Higher Education (February 10, 2020)

Joelle M. Abi-Rached, “Covid-19 and Big Data: A Footnote,” Medium (March 30, 2020)

Lorraine Daston, “Ground-Zero Empiricism,” In the Moment (April 10, 2020)

Henry M. Cowles, “The scientific method can’t save us from the Coronavirus,” The Washington Post (April 23, 2020)

Laetitia Lenel, “Public and Scientific Uncertainty in the Time of COVID-19,” History of Knowledge (May 13, 2020)

Banu Subramaniam and Debjani Bhattacharyya, “A Viral Education: Scientific Lessons from India’s WhatsApp University,” Somatosphere (May 31, 2020)

Jahnavi Phalkey, “The Pandemic: What Should the Public Know?” Nature India (July 21, 2020)

Philippa Levine, “Russia’s Fast-Track Vaccine Is a Lesson in Ethics, Human Exploitation,” The Hill (August 13, 2020)

Hao Chen, “Nonhuman Animals in a Human Pandemic: Past and Present,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Edmund Russell, “Coevolution in a Time of Coronaviruses,” Environmental History (October 13, 2020)

Nancy Tomes and Anthony Mason, “Over a Century Ago, Masks Were Controversial during the 1918 Flu Pandemic,” CBS This Morning (October 30, 2020)

Torsten Kathke, “Popular Science in Times of Covid,” GESIS Blog (January 27, 2021)

Warwick Anderson, “The Model Crisis, or How to Have Critical Promiscuity in the Time of Covid-19,” Social Studies of Science (February 16, 2021)

The Politics of Infection Control

Robert Peckham, “Coronavirus Is Testing the Limits of China’s – and Hong Kong’s – Preparedness,” South China Morning Post (February 6, 2020)

Deborah Levine, “No, Mr. President, healthcare workers aren’t stealing masks. You failed them.” The Washington Post (March 30, 2020)

Emma Day, “The Coronavirus is a Flimsy Excuse to Ban Abortion,”  The Washington Post (April 8, 2020)

Sarah Yu, “A brief social history of the face mask, and a historian’s reflections about the present,” Coronavirus Chronicles (April 21, 2020) 

Warwick Anderson, “Unmasked: Face-work in a Pandemic,” Arena (May 29, 2020) 

Jennifer Burek Pierce, “From Alfred Fournier to Anthony Fauci: Targeting Public Health Messages to Teens,” Nursing Clio (June 17, 2020)

Matthew Newsom Kerr, “Licenses to Ill: Heal Passes and Surveillance,” Origins (September 28, 2020)


Cynthia Connolly, Patricia D’Antonio, and Julie Fairman, “Coronavirus nursing shortage? Three ways to get more nurses—now,” The Philadelphia Inquirer (March 27, 2020)

Vaccine Development and Distribution

E. Thomas Ewing, “History Reminds Us that Vaccines Alone Don’t End Pandemics,” The Washington Post (November 30, 2020)

Susan Brynne Long, “Our Leaders Getting Vaccinated Can Build Confidence in a Covid-19 Vaccine,” The Washington Post (December 7, 2020)

Michael Falcone, “If Nations Compete for Doses of Coronavirus Vaccines, We’ll All Lose,” The Washington Post (December 9, 2020)

Dan Royles, “Years of Medical Abuse Make Black Americans Less Likely to Trust the Coronavirus Vaccine,” The Washington Post (December 15, 2020)

Cora Olson and Claire Simpson, “The Essential Problem: Essential Workers Category and Vaccine Roll-Outs,” Nursing Clio (January 26, 2021)

Cameron Givens, “The Key to Combating Conspiracy Theories about Coronavirus Vaccines,” The Washington Post (February 1, 2021)

Joyce Chaplin, “Having Vaccines Alone Isn’t Enough to Defeat Covid-19,” The Washington Post (February 23, 2021)

Evan P. Sullivan, “Misinformation, Vaccination, and ‘Medical Liberty’ in the Age of COVID-19,” Nursing Clio (March 30, 2021)