COVID-19 isn’t the first pandemic to strike Californians at alarming rates. The Golden State has endured its share of debilitating and deadly mass illness—but we’ve managed to come through to the other side every time. What were the plagues and pandemics of California history and how did we survive them? Who was the Dr. Fauci of the influenza of 1918? Alta contributing editor and director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West William Deverell joins Alta Asks Live to try and answer these questions of our past, and find a little hope in our present.
William Deverell is the director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West and a professor of history at the University of Southern California. He writes widely on the history and culture of the 19th- and 20th-century American West. Current projects include “The West on Fire,” an interdisciplinary investigation of changing fire patterns and fire practices across deep time in the West, and an interdisciplinary historical and visual re-creation of the first Chinatown of Los Angeles (destroyed in the 1930s to make way for Union Station). He studied at Stanford in American studies and received his MA and PhD degrees from Princeton in American history. His forthcoming book, Kathy Fiscus: A Tragedy that Transfixed the Nation, will be published by Angel City Press in early 2021.