Photo: Flu Masks at Chanute Field, Rantoul, Illinois (1918).

A History of Healing

Infectious Diseases and Community Responses to Defeat Them

Infectious diseases are constant human companions. They cause suffering, create fear, and may end in death. However, governments, public health departments, scientists, healthcare workers, and entire communities aggressively respond to combat, contain, and defeat these diseases.

The exhibit focuses on the impact and influence of such diseases as the 1918 flu, smallpox, malaria, tuberculosis, polio, typhoid, cholera, HIV, AIDS, and COVID-19. When viewing this exhibit, visitors will build an appreciation and basic understanding of the historic influences disease had over people’s lives and communities, both in central Illinois and abroad, resulting in a better understanding of how disease affects us today and informs our responses to it. In addition to examining the impact disease has had on the health and well-being of local communities, the exhibit will highlight particular instances in the past, as well as the present, where local citizens came together during previous epidemics and pandemics for the betterment of their communities.

Understanding the hardships, changes, and responses wrought in Champaign County and abroad arms us to prepare and respond to infectious disease both today and tomorrow.

Check out this virtual walkthrough of the exhibit!