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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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Maps as Graphic Propaganda for Public Health

Maps as Graphic Propaganda for Public Health

(p.108) 6. Maps as Graphic Propaganda for Public Health
Imagining Illness

Mark Monmonie

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the role of maps as graphic propaganda for public health: from John Snow’s map of the infamous Broad (now Broadwick) Street pump in London’s Soho, first created during the cholera epidemic of 1854, to epidemiological maps used by government agencies in the early twenty-first century. It argues that Snow’s map was largely buried in the epidemiological literature until the 1930s when Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Wade Hampton Frost touted it as a prototype of bacteriological thinking as well as an emblem of medical geography. It considers the dual role of maps ostensibly intended to describe public health facilities or summarize programs of disease surveillance. It also suggests that maps are inherently more effective, if not more common, as persuasive graphics than as research tools. Indeed, any graphic that attracts viewers’ attention to a threat or campaign is propaganda insofar as it contributes to heightened concern or increased resolve.

Keywords:   maps, propaganda, public health, John Snow, cholera, Wade Hampton Frost, medical geography, disease surveillance, graphics

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