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Some useful vintage advertisements and posters that encourage social distancing.

Emily Temple

March 30, 2020, 10:30am

On Friday, Rebecca Makkai tweeted a 1918 advertisement that suggested readers could “escape the flu by spending the evenings in your own home” with a phonograph. (Turns out social distancing to prevent illness isn’t exactly a new idea.) Interested, I hunted around to find more vintage advertisements that used the flu to sell their products, as well as some public health posters from years past that encourage social distancing and personal hygiene as a way of combating the spread of disease. (While of course Covid-19 is not the flu, or tuberculosis, or WW2, the principles of staying safe are similar.) As ridiculous as some of these images are, information is power, after all—and in fact, we’re just starting to see public awareness campaigns popping up again in the face of the current pandemic.

c. 1918 c. 1918 c. 1918 c. 1920 A vintage Listerine ad A warning apparently specific to library-goers from Archives New Zealand’s health poster collection. The poster was produced in the 1950’s.
New York WPA Federal Art Project, District 4, (1936-1941) WW2 poster, UK From Archives New Zealand’s health poster collection Public Affairs Bureau, Provincial Archives of Alberta, 1959 c. 1940s c. 1918 1918. From the Temple University Library Collection. c. 1960s Truly gross WW2 poster
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