Illustrations of heads showing surprise and aversion. Holograph manuscript by Louis Charles d'Ourches Bigarures. Credit: Wellcome Library, London
Tuberculosis (TB) has long been regarded as a major danger to public health, and is now widely seen as a disease that is not only endemic across the world, but also one that has developed new strains that threaten to explode in epidemic proportions. A new exhibition mounted by two Wellcome Trust supported Centres at the University of York focuses on the impact of TB from the nineteenth century up until the present day.
On show from 21- 22 June at the York Medical Society, the exhibition features a range of extraordinary images from the Wellcome Library’s collections, illuminating different episodes from the history of the disease, including, a haunting watercolour by Richard Tennant Cooper depicting Death rising over an invalid suffering from TB.
From photographs of children’s sanatoriums to public health posters designed to curb the spread of TB, one is afforded a captivating insight into different stages in the fight against the disease.
Also featuring photographs from the World Health Organization, which supports and is associated with the exhibition, the story of TB is brought right up to date with the rise of drug-resistant strains and the need for innovations both in health system process and in the tools used to combat the disease.
The accompanying publication: Tuberculosis: A Short History, contains images from the exhibition in addition to a wider selection of supporting material drawn from a variety of repositories. Copies of this 44-page, hard-backed book will be distributed free-of-charge to exhibition-goers (subject to availability) and is also free to download from the Centre for Global Health Histories website.
On the opening night of the exhibition (21 June), Dr Helen Bynum, author of Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis, will deliver a free guest lecture, entitled: The longest and most dangerous of all chronic diseases.
The exhibition is a collaboration between the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders and the Centre for Global Health Histories, both based at the University of York. It forms part of the ‘health’ strand of the York Festival of Ideas, which runs from 13 – 19 June. The exhibition is free and open to all, from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd June . The York Medical Society is based in a beautiful Grade II listed building in the heart of York, a short 10 minute walk from the railway station, so head up to York next weekend and take a look!
Author: Dr Alexander Medcalf, Outreach Historian at the Centre for Global Health Histories, University of York
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