Visual Culture and Public Health Posters

This online exhibit is designed to introduce you to the history of images used in public health posters in the twentieth century. It utilizes the world’s largest collection of poster art dealing with questions of health in the United States, housed at the National Library of Medicine. Many of these images can also be viewed through the Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) homepage. The exhibit is divided into two sections that focus on infectious diseases and environmental health concerns, revealing how posters provide an effective medium for communicating information about disease, identifying risk factors, and promoting behavioral change. Two sections on HIV/AIDS education and anti-smoking campaigns provide expanded examinations of public health campaigns that have used a variety of political, psychological, moral, cultural, and economic strategies to achieve their desired aims. By examining the history and function of public health posters, the exhibit suggests that social, biological, and cultural factors have collectively influenced the design of public health campaigns throughout the preceding century.”

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