Princeton Professor Julian Zelizer connects history to the coronavirus pandemic

Yin Fei, Staff Writer

With coronavirus festering as a national crisis, Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University Julian Zelizer P’19 P’20 P’22 P’22 spoke about the topic in a Zoom interview with Editor-in-Chief of The Record Julia Robbins (12). 

“When big things are constantly happening and you’re studying the context, you know some of the background, it’s as if you’re watching the history unfold,” Zelizer said.

He provided historical examples related to the pandemic, including the 1918 flu and the AIDS crisis. 

Eliza Bender (12) said that some of the points brought up connected to her studies in AP U.S. History, where she is learning about the New Deal. The interview helped her realize that history echoes through time, she said. “By seeing how previous elections were put on hold and the certain economic stimulus packages the government has had to produce, looking at the past is definitely relevant to today.”

The crisis is also pertinent to future conversations. Zelizer said people will start to gravitate towards careers in medicine as a result of seeing heroic medical professionals risk their lives to treat patients on television and online. 

“We are living through a very important historical moment,” History Department Chair Dr. Daniel Link said. “One day our children and grandchildren will be asking about why the pandemic came about and what the response was.”