On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com


There will be fair and clear skies over the city today. The high will be a seasonable 64° with the low tonight reaching 50°. Since Friday afternoon 5,624 new cases of Spanish Influenza have been reported to the Department of Health. That is an average of 1,874 per day. Doctor Wilmer Krusen, Director of the Department, asserts that this is a decrease of almost 2000 new cases a day and therefore shows that the epidemic is subsiding. Today’s dead today included 7 policemen and 3 firemen. Four hundred coffins were given to the city by the Society of Organizing Charities and the War Camp Service Committee to help alleviate the shortage.

Scores of Roman Catholic priests and seminary students have exchanged their books for shovels. The students are studying for the priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary but now have become grave diggers at Holy Cross Cemetery outside of Darby. They are doing what they can to mitigate the lack of grave diggers and care for the dead. In many cases the priests and seminarians are digging graves, then conducting the religious service for the deceased and assisting with the burials. The men are working day and night.

Seminarians digging graves

Philadelphia’s women are fighting the epidemic as valiantly as the men. The National League for Woman’s Service, 1703 Walnut Street, is answering the call to help by providing food for the sick and their families. Meat, soup, vegetables and orange juice are distributed twice daily from its main office on Walnut Street and its branches in Chestnut Hill, Germantown and central Philadelphia. The organization’s motor corps is also delivering food to the homes of those in distress. The Children’s Bureau, 419 South 15th Street, is appealing to all true American women in Philadelphia to open their homes and care for children who have been made orphans by the grip or whose parents are in the hospital suffering from the disease. The Bureau currently has 50 children in need of motherly love. The Bureau’s home is full and many other children are in need of a loving home.

South Philadelphia is perhaps suffering more from the flu than any other section of the city. The crowded living conditions, the poverty of the residents and the filthy streets and alleys all play a part in the spread of the disease. But now volunteers from the Woman’s College Hospital are trying to alleviate some of the squalor by cleaning the homes of the sick. These women come armed with mops, brooms, scrubbing brushes and hot water. Floors, closets, rugs, furniture and bedding are cleaned for the suffering and food is brought to nourish those in need.