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Behind the Blue

Some stories require a little more – a little more discussion, more context, more depth and breadth. That’s the idea behind “Behind the Blue” – a weekly podcast created by UK Public Relations and Marketing. It is designed to explore through probing interviews the in-depth the stories that make UK the university for Kentucky and that have impact across the institution, the Commonwealth and, in some cases, the world.
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Now displaying: Page 1
Apr 16, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 16, 2020) – In 1918, as the United States sent troops to the Western Front for the final months of World War I, an influenza pandemic raged across the globe, infecting nearly a quarter of the world’s population of around 500 million at that time. The death toll was immense, with estimates anywhere from 17-50 million, and some as high as 100 million lives lost. The University of Kentucky was not immune to this deadly pandemic and in response turned its gymnasium, now known as Buell Armory, into a makeshift hospital with help from the Red Cross.

Terry L. Birdwhistell, senior oral historian in the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at UK Libraries, has a personal connection to the 1918 flu pandemic, due to his own family being impacted. “Back then in Anderson County,” Birdwhistell says, “a farm family would have six, eight, 10 kids, to work the farm. I always thought it was odd that my father was an only child, coming out of that environment.” Birdwhistell says his mother told him in later years, “your grandmother had the flu that year, she was pregnant and she lost the baby, and she couldn’t have any more children. It put it all in perspective.”

On this special edition of “Behind the Blue,” Kody Kiser and Carl Nathe of UK Public Relations and Strategic Communications talk with Birdwhistell about life at the time of the 1918 influenza pandemic, how the university and community responded, the unique roles our university presidents played both then and now, and more.

"Behind the Blue" is available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify. Become a subscriber to receive new episodes of “Behind the Blue” each week. UK’s latest medical breakthroughs, research, artists and writers will be featured, along with the most important news impacting the university.

For questions or comments about this or any other episode of "Behind the Blue," email BehindTheBlue@uky.edu or tweet your question with #BehindTheBlue. Transcripts for this or other episodes of Behind the Blue can be downloaded from the show’s blog page. You can watch a video version of this podcast here.

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