Health Posters from the NLM

Last week I had a terrible cold. So when I read about this new exhibit from the National Library of Medicine, I knew I had to write about it. (GAHCHOO!) Sorry.

The new exhibit is An Iconography of Contagion: A Web Exhibition of 20th-century Health Posters, and it’s available at This exhibit is adapted from an exhibitition that was hosted by the National Academy of Sciences in 2008. There is explanatory text but the heart of the exhibit is about two dozen posters. The posters date from the 1920s to the 1990s, are from all over the world, and address a variety of health concerns.

Items include a 1935 poster from China about tuberculosis (summary: don’t spit on the sidewalk), an odd 1944 poster featuring a fly wearing shoes (many shoes) and a Kenyan poster about sleeping sickness. Posters not in English are translated.

This is a pretty brief exhibit (especially if you’re used to Library of Congress exhibits where you might see jillions of posters and prints in one place) but the commentary is good and the choices for the exhibit interesting.

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