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Imagining IllnessPublic Health and Visual Culture$
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David Serlin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816648221

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816648221.001.0001

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The Color of Money

The Color of Money

Campaigning for Health in Black and White America

(p.40) 3. The Color of Money
Imagining Illness

Gregg Mitman

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the work of Otto Neurath, the Austrian sociologist, political economist, and philosopher who was commissioned by the National Tuberculosis Association to develop a visual language for health education meant to reach across borders of geography, race, and class. Neurath designed a traveling exhibit to educate Americans on the causes and prevention of tuberculosis. Part of a national NTA campaign launched under the slogan, “No Home Is Safe until All Homes Are Safe,” “Fighting Tuberculosis Successfully” needed to carry its message of TB prevention to all age, economic, and racial groups in the United States. The chapter considers Neurath’s efforts to establish the isotype as an international picture language and shows that this isotype did not match the economic, political, and social realities of a segregated America. Through an analysis of visual materials—Christmas seals, posters, and films—produced over three decades of campaigning for health, it explores how voluntary health agencies addressed issues of racial integration and segregation and became an important, yet largely unrecognized, site of activism and change in the struggles leading up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Keywords:   health education, Otto Neurath, National Tuberculosis Association, race, traveling exhibit, tuberculosis, isotype, visual materials, voluntary health agencies, racial integration

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