Most of our ancestors wore medical masks every day in 1918 through 1920. I remember my father describing those days when he was a 10 to 12-year-old. My mother was still a toddler in 1918 to 1920 and did not remember the masks herself but she relayed to me a number of stories her older relatives had told later while she was growing up. Your ancestors undoubtedly wore masks as well, both in the U.S. and in most other countries. The 1918/1920 Spanish Flu pandemic killed millions worldwide and most people in most countries wore masks and took other precautions, such as what we now call “social distancing.”
The following is from a rather interesting article by Paul French in the CNN web site:
When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit Asia, people across the region were quick to wear masks, with some places like Taiwan and the Philippines even making them mandatory in certain scenarios.
But in the West, mask adoption has been far slower, with England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, for example, going so far as to claim mask-wearing is unnecessary.
Yet it hasn’t always been the case that mask-wearing is an Asian proclivity.
It certainly wasn’t during the influenza pandemic of 1918, which lasted from January 1918 to December 1920, and infected one-third of the world’s population, or about 500 million people, leading to about 50 million deaths — about half a million of which were in the United States.
You can read the entire article, by hitting here