An iconography of contagion

The National Institutes of Health has an online exhibition of 20th century health posters from various countries, key-coded by different common visual motifs (hands, mouths, skulls, rodents, sinister blobs). Many of the posters present an odd mix of informativeness and fear-mongering; quite a few traffic in stereotypes of disease and contagion (and diseased/contagious people) that read uneasily in the present day. This anti-TB admonition is one of the cheerier examples.


Discover the Unknown Spreaders!,” 28 x 39cm print, National Tuburculosis Association, United States, c.1940, from the exhibition An Iconography of Contagion, US National Library of Medicine, February 2010 :: via MetaFilter

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