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Dear Snuggie™ advocates,

I spent much of Friday flexing my would-be public intellectual muscles at a lively and illuminating roundtable discussion on the healthcare crisis (media coverage, the public option, the Stupak amendment) organized by Harvard’s Women, Gender, and Sexuality department. Yet as Jill Lepore’s recent Talk of the Town plainly shows, healthcare has been an ongoing dilemma in this country for nearly a century.

For a peek into the ways health and medicine were popularly understood and discussed in the early 20th century, skip over to the Indiana Public Health Digital Library for images culled from the Monthly Bulletin of the State Board of Health. Take these two, for example: on the left, a heartwarming illustration of two girls at play; on the right, a terrifying image of Death himself. I wonder where he stands on the “death panel” debate.

And while you’re at it, take a look at the images digitized by the National Library of Medicine, like the warning on the left against lice, also known as “cooties” or “seam squirrels,” or the Women’s Army Corps recruitment poster on the right.

Preventively yours,

Stephen

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