Health and Medicine on Display: International Expositions in the United States, 1876-1904
Julie K. Brown, an independent scholar, is currently a Research Associate in the Department of Medicine, Science, and Society at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. She is the author of Making Culture Visible: The Public Display of Photography at Fairs, Expositions, and Exhibitions in the United States, 1847-1900 and Contesting Images: Photography and the World's Columbian Exposition.
How international expositions, through their exhibits and infrastructures, attempted to increase public awareness of advances in health and medicine.
International expositions, with their massive assembling of exhibits and audiences, were the media events of their time. In transmitting a new culture of visibility that merged information, entertainment, and commerce, they provided a unique opportunity for the public to become aware of various social and technological advances. With Health and Medicine on Display, Julie Brown offers the first book-length examination of how international expositions, through their exhibits and infrastructures, sought to demonstrate innovations in applied health and medical practice. Brown investigates not only how exhibits translated health and medical information into visual form but also how exposition sites in urban settings (an exposition was “a city within a city” sometimes in conflict with municipal authorities) provided emergency medical treatment, access to safe water, and protection against infectious diseases. Brown looks at four expositions held in Philadelphia, Chicago, Buffalo, and St. Louis between 1876 and 1904, spanning the Gilded Age and the early reform years of the Progressive Era. She describes the 1904 St. Louis exposition in particular detail, looking closely at the sites and services as well as selected exhibits (including working model playground, live X-ray demonstrations, and a rescue film by the U.S. Navy). Many carefully researched illustrations, most never before published (with supplementary images available on the MIT Press website), vividly demonstrate the role that these exhibitions played in framing and shaping health issues for their audiences.
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