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Treasure 48: Tuberculosis Exhibition Poster
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Treasure 48: Tuberculosis Exhibition Poster

Historic Documents
Léa Moreau
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Treasure 48: Tuberculosis Exhibition Poster
Historic Documents
Treasure 48: Tuberculosis Exhibition Poster
In March 1912 an exhibition on the infectious disease tuberculosis was held in the Music Hall on Union Street. This striking poster, with the headline 'War on consumption', advertised the six day event and the accompanying series of lectures.

The exhibition was organised by the Town Council of Aberdeen and the National Association for the Prevention of Consumption. The majority of the exhibition was brought to the city by the latter party with local additions from the Aberdeen Public Health Department, the pathological and public health laboratories of the University of Aberdeen and the Aberdeen Mothers' and Babies' Club.

The exhibition arrived in Aberdeen on the 16 March from Dundee where it had been visited by 30,000 people. It had also toured Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Hull.

The exhibits were arranged in the Music Hall's Ball Room and Square Room by Mr Haughton, the organising secretary, with assistance by officials of the Public Health Department. The exhibition included two full sized model rooms. Living conditions such as good ventilation, fresh air and sunlight were considered vital in combating the disease. A "bad room" was modelled on a real property in the East End of London.

Tuberculosis was a grave health concern at the time. The poster states that "During the past Ten Years in Aberdeen 1997 persons died from Consumption, and 1039 from other forms of Tuberculosis." In a preview of the exhibition from 19 March, the Aberdeen Journal wrote "The object of the exhibition is to draw attention to the enormous wastage of life and work caused by tuberculosis in its various forms; to show how the disease is caused and spread; and to illustrate the methods of cure and the precautions for its prevention."

The importance of the exhibition was further stressed in a later article which stated: "There is no single disease that causes among civilian communities so many deaths and manifests itself in such various forms, and nothing can be more desirable than to bring home to the masses of people how the deadly scourge can best be prevented or checked. In Aberdeen alone the number of deaths yearly from all forms of tuberculosis is about 270, and of these about two-thirds, or 180, are due to pulmonary tuberculosis. The disease usually lasts long, and the number of definite diseases attributable to it at any one time in the city is probably not less than four or even five times as large as the deaths."

The exhibition was opened by the Principal of the University of Aberdeen, George Adam Smith, and was accompanied by a series of daily public lectures by experts on the disease. Each day's lecture was followed by cinematograph presentations illustrating the precautions taken in connection to tuberculosis. The lectures were held next-door to the Music Hall in the Aberdeen Y.M.C.A. Hall.

At the close of the "six day crusade against tuberculosis", Lord Provost Maitland described the exhibition and lecture series as "Magnificent" and the Journal stated that the success of the event, "judged by popularity, is beyond all doubt." In total 39,960 attended over the six days, placing Aberdeen behind only Hull which was open for an extra day. Approximately 20,000 health pamphlets were disseminated around the city, including 15,000 catalogues freely distributed by the Public Health Committee. A copy of this catalogue, which includes an instructive article from Hay, is kept in the collection of Aberdeen Local Studies.
Aberdeen Local Studies
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