In the early twentieth century, public health reformers approached the task of ameliorating unsanitary conditions and preventing epidemic diseases with optimism. Using exhibits, they believed they could make systemic issues visual to masses of people. Embedded within these visual displays were messages about individual action. In some cases, this meant changing hygienic practices. In other situations, this meant taking up action to inform public policy. Reformers and officials hoped that exhibits would energize America's populace to invest in protecting the public's health. Exhibiting Health: Public Health Displays in the Progressive Era
(Rutgers UP, 2020) is an analysis of the logic of the production and the consumption of this technique for popular public health education between 1900 and 1930. It examines the power and limits of using visual displays to support public health initiatives.
Jennifer Lisa Koslow
is an associate professor of history and director of the Historical Administration and Public History program at Florida State University in Tallahassee. She is the author of Cultivating Health: Los Angeles Women and Public Health Reform
(Rutgers University Press).
Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine. She teaches and writes about health behavior in historical context.