Guide to the Clinics for Tuberculosis Screenings in Radford, Virginia Advertisement, circa 1920

Summary Information

Title: Clinics for Tuberculosis Screenings in Radford, Virginia Advertisement, circa 1920
Collection: AC.556
Extent: 0.01 linear feet (1 folder)

This is a delicate flyer announcing "Free Chest Examinations" in Radford, Virginia, sponsored by the Radford Tuberculosis Committee, in cooperation with State Board of Health Bureau of Tuberculosis.  Days and places are given; circa 1920.

Creator: unknown

Biographical/Historical Note

Dr. Robert Koch discovered the tuberculosis bacillus in March 1882. The BCG vaccine was first used on humans in 1921 in France, but only received widespread acceptance in the USA, Great Britain, and Germany after World War II.

Tuberculosis caused the most widespread public concern in the 19th and early 20th centuries as an endemic disease of the urban poor. In 1815, one in four deaths in England was due to "consumption". By 1918, one in six deaths in France was still caused by TB. After determining the disease was contagious in the 1880s, TB was put on a notifiable disease list in Britain, campaigns were started to stop people from spitting in public places, and the infected poor were "encouraged" to enter sanatoria that resembled prisons (the sanatoria for the middle and upper classes offered excellent care and constant medical attention). Whatever the (purported) benefits of the "fresh air" and labor in the sanatoria, even under the best conditions, 50% of those who entered died within five years (circa 1916).
(From Wikipedia)

History of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis has long been called the silent killer and has been known since the birth of history. It ravaged ancient Egypt and Greece. The ancient Greeks described it with the word phthisis , which means for a living body to “shrivel with intense heat as if placed in a flame.” Later the Romans ascribed the term consumere —to eat up or devour— to it.

For some time scientists believed that tuberculosis first emerged in Middle Eastern cows and spread to people with the development of agriculture. Later it was introduced to the New World by Europeans, The theory was debunked when bone lesions caused by tuberculosis were found on pre-Columbian mummies from South America.

In the old days tuberculosis was called the consumption and it was a very serious illness indeed. Between 1800 and 1870 it accounted for one out of five deaths in the United States and was described as a plague even though in actuality it is a chronic illness. Special institutions called sanatoriums were set up to treat it and a whole culture, with separate protocols for men and women, developed around it.

Tuberculosis was called consumption in part because of the way it slowly, inexorable devoured the lungs and weakened the body. Among those that were claimed by it were the poet John Keats, the Bronte sisters, Moliere, Voltaire, and Chekhov. Verdi and Puccini operas featured heroines struck down in their prime by the disease.

Drugs discovered in the 1940s came close to eliminating the disease. But now tuberculosis kills more people than AIDS (3 million a year versus 1 million). Only about half of the 3 million to 8 million new tuberculosis cases each year are cured.

Scope and Contents

In the 1920s, free chest examinations were offered in clinics as it was a very serious illness that accounted for one out of five deaths in the 1870s, often described as a plague. Drugs to combat this disease were not discovered until the 1940s.

This free clinic advertised in Radford, Virginia gave separate clinic dates for the "whites," children, and "colored." The flyer also gives symptoms of tuberculosis to encourage people to come.


This is a single-item collection.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for use in the Dougherty Reading Room. An appointment for research is recommended. The Dougherty Reading Room is located on the 4th floor of Belk Library in Special Collections.

Acquisitions Information

It was purchased from Bookworm and Silverfish, September 2001. Accession number is AC.2001.082.

Processing Information

Processed by Anita Elliott, March 2013. This collection was processed as part of a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The grant funded extensive processing of the backlog within the W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection between 2012 and 2014.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], AC.556: Clinics for Tuberculosis Screenings in Radford, Virginia Advertisement, W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA.

Container List

Flyer, circa 1920s ACSC_Box 16.21