Story: Epidemics

Home schooling, 1948

During a polio epidemic in 1948, schools closed to prevent the disease spreading. This cartoon shows a busy mother trying to do the housework and mind the baby while supervising her older children's studies.

While healthy children appreciated the time off school, those who caught polio could not enjoy the extended holiday. Listen to the recording of a woman remembering her visit to a school friend with polio who spent most of her time in an iron lung – some polio victims could only breathe with the aid of this machine.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: H-634-016
Cartoon by James E. Sanders

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

Sound file from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision (Health - Polio Epidemic 1947/8/Reference number CDR23)

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Rice, 'Epidemics - Epidemics, pandemics and disease control', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 10 August 2022)

Story by Geoff Rice, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 15 May 2018