KCUR News
1:53 pm
Tue May 26, 2009

National Archives Finds New Home; Inaugural Exhibit Highlights 1918 Flu Pandemic

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City's National Archives Center opened to the public this past weekend. A newly renovated freight building next to Union Station now houses some 15 million federal documents from throughout the region. For years, they were stored in what archivists there describe as a difficult-to-access federal depot in South Kansas City. In honor of the new space, the center put together an exhibit showcasing key moments in local and national history. KCUR's Elana Gordon has more.

No one knows for sure, but it's widely believed the great flu pandemic of 1918 started in Kansas. A section of the archive's exhibit features some rare hospital records, letters, and photos from that period. Sophia Harris works in infection control at a nearby hospital, and visited the display on opening day. She says the documents really show how far medical practices have come, and how the field is much better equipped to handle such situations nowadays.

HARRIS: "I'm looking at the hospital recording - you know, what the nurses what documented - all they documented was the fever, and gave them an aspirin. That was it, you know, they just laid there and succumbed to the disease."

The exhibit also examines other historic moments, like the 1951 Brown verses Board of Education lawsuit. Organizers say they put the some hundred documents on display to mark the 75th anniversary of the entire federal archives system, in addition to celebrating the opening of the new center.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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