Of Syphilis and Salvarasan: Uncle Sam Get’s Involved

3b48847rFor this week’s post, I am resurrecting some material from 2011.

The U. S. Public Health Service and the privately operated American Social Hygiene Association, commissioned artists working under the WPA (Works Progress Administration) to design posters for their campaign against venereal disease. The lithographed posters, mostly produced from 1936 to 1942, were distributed by state and local boards of health and public health and safety programs. Digital copies of posters came from the Library of Congress, the Wellcome Library, and the American Social Hygiene Association archive at the University of Minnesota. The images seen here are from the Library of Congress.  Alexandra Lord explored this topic on January 27, 2011. Her lecture, Sleeping With Uncle Sam: Federally Funded Sex Education and the American Public documents a century long struggle to create sex education programs balancing both cultural and public health concerns.

What you might find interesting here is just how many of these posters use the idea of “the enemy” to make their point:

Want to learn more about the US Military’s decades-long war on STDs? Check out the online exhibit The Enemy in Your Pants By Elizabeth Gettelman and Mark Murrmann.

Published by

Brandy Schillace

Historian and author Brandy Schillace, PhD, is Editor for Medhum Fiction | Daily Dose, Research Associate and Public Engagement at the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum, as well as Managing Editor of the medical anthropology journal Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry.

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