A team of Virginia Tech undergraduate students’ research work on the history of tuberculosis in Virginia will be on display in regional libraries as well as at the Science Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke.

Using original source materials such as newspaper obituaries, census data, medical journals, and public health reports, students researched and designed posters about the disease responsible for the single greatest cause of death in America from 1870 to 1920. The posters explore medical research on tuberculosis, data about victims, public health measures, recommended cures, and the significance of race.

The posters will be exhibited at the following locations (presentations are scheduled at the times listed):

  • Friday, April 24 at 4 p.m. at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library at University of Virginia;
  • Saturday, April 25 at 11 a.m. at the Science Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke;
  • Monday, April 27 at Newman Library at Virginia Tech;
  • Sunday, June 14 at the Staunton Public Library.

“The goal of this exhibit is to engage a public audience in understanding the historical significance of this disease while also illustrating important developments in medical understanding, cultural norms, and social experience,” said Professor of History Tom Ewing, project director and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

One poster was designed and written for children with the goal of explaining the disease in age-appropriate ways. The posters include individual examples of Virginians who died of consumption as a way to document the impact of this disease on society and families during this era.

The participating students represent a range of majors and academic fields at Virginia Tech:

  • senior Phoebe Bredin of Alexandria, Virginia,  a geography and biological sciences double major;
  • junior Andrew Climo of Richmond, Virginia,  a history major;
  • junior Julie Clements of Harrisonburg, Virginia, a health, nutrition, foods, and exercise major with a psychology minor;
  • senior Nancy Mason of Bluefield, Virginia, a history major, with minors in Asian studies and psychology;
  • junior Grace Hemmingson of Vienna, Virginia, a history major, with a minor in English;
  • senior Veronica Kimmerly, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, chemical engineering and mathematics majors and a German minor;
  • first year Scottie Lynch of Roanoke, Virginia, a history major; and
  •  junior Murphy Massey of Vienna, Virginia, a biological sciences major with a minor in medicine and society.

Financial support for this project was provided by the Department of History and the Undergraduate Research Institute in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. During the research and design phases, the team's advisers included Joseph Falkinham, professor of biological sciences; and Newman data curators and librarians Shane Coleman, Andrea Ogier, and Patrick Tomlin.