NIH in History

Visual Culture and Public Health Posters

Out, Out, TB!

Color illustration showing a man pushing against a door to keep out a shrouded gray figure representing tuberculosis. A nurse stands nearby protecting a woman and a little girl.

CREDIT: history of medicine division, NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE

The National Library of Medicine’s History of Medicine Division has a number of online exhibitions including a collection of public-health posters. This 1919 poster from the American Red Cross promises that tuberculosis (TB) would be “the next to go.” The illustration shows the man of the house pushing the unwelcome TB intruder out the door, while a nurse looks on comforting the family. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, TB was the leading cause of death in the United States and one of the most dreaded diseases known to mankind. Until 882, when Robert Koch discovered the disease-causing tuberculosis bacteria, many scientists believed that TB was hereditary and could not be prevented. In the 1880s, many TB patients were sent to sanatoriums where rest, fresh air, and a healthy diet helped them recover. Posters such as the one shown became effective educational and fundraising tools in the campaign against TB. To view the “Visual Culture and Public Health Posters” Exhibition, go to https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/visualculture/index.html. You’ll find the TB section at https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/visualculture/tuberculosis.html.