A series of images is shared by social networks in recent days with a text that ensures that they have been taken during the Spanish flu of 1918. In general, four photos are disseminated, but only one corresponds to what the text says. The rest are from other years and have been taken in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. We do a review.

Image 1: Protection against fog and smoke in Philadelphia in 1953

Photo: Associated Press.

Two women face to face, in skirt and with a large plastic bag on the head and shoulders. The image has circulated on social networks but does not correspond to 1918. Through a reverse search, we found that it was published by the Associated Press agency.

According to the agency’s description, the photograph shows Meriel Bush (left) and Ruth Neuer (right) wearing “capes to prevent the effect of the smoke and toxic fog in the eyes that covered the city of Philadelphia for the second consecutive day on the 20th November 1953 ».

As National Geographic explains in this article, a large amount of pollution was present in the city for several days, causing a strong cough and respiratory distress.

Figure 2: Protection from Montreal Snowstorms in 1939

Photo: Spaarnestad Photo

This photo of two women with cone-shaped masks does not correspond to the 1918 pandemic either, as claimed in several Facebook posts. Actually, the image was taken in the city of Montreal in Canada in January 1939 and the plastic masks correspond to face shields to protect themselves from snow storms.

Through a reverse search, we found that the photo belongs to the archive of a Dutch foundation called Spaarnestad Photo, which maintains millions of photos from around the world in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Image 3: Gas mask in London in 1941

Photo: Keystone / .

Two women and a man walk with a baby carriage and at the same time wear gas masks. The photo was taken during World War II in a London neighborhood.

A reverse search leads us to the origin of the image in .. The description reads as follows: A young mother in a gas mask puts on her son’s gas mask during a surprise gas attack test in Kingston.

The photo was taken on June 9, 1941, according to .’s description.

Image 4: A family during the Spanish flu in California

Photo: Dublin Heritage and Mark Museum

Through the reverse search, we found that the British newspaper Daily Mail published the image with this caption: a family of six in Dublin, California, poses for a photo during the Spanish flu crisis in 1918. They also specify the source the Dublin Heritage Mark Museum.

Indeed, we found the image on the website of the collection. The description states the following: “In 1919, the flu pandemic killed between 20 and 40 million people. The fear of contracting this deadly virus was so great that people living as far away as Dublin took every possible precaution to protect themselves.


Associated PressDublin Heritage Mark Museum.National Geographic