Before Ebola: The U.S. Government's Role in Controlling Contagious Disease

U.S. Public Service Officers in their uniforms, c. 1912, Office of the Public Health Service Historian

The Ebola cases in the U.S. have sparked an exhibit, based on the government documents collection--occupying two-and-a-half miles of shelf space--at the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University, that examines the impact of epidemics and the U.S. government’s response to them throughout American history.

"Before Ebola: The U.S. Government’s Role in Controlling Contagious Disease," drawing from primary evidence, explores smallpox and yellow fever; the 1918  influenza pandemic; venereal disease, including the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and the outbreak among World War I military recruits; and the HIV/AIDS crisis.

"This exhibit will help us emphasize the variety of primary evidence resources the library has," says Elizabeth McBride, a social sciences librarian who co-curates the exhibit with Chris Palazzolo, head of collection management and adjunct professor in the political science department.

"Elizabeth and Chris have drawn incredible stories out of what might seem at first glance to be dense, dry documents," says Kathryn Dixson, library exhibitions manager. "We hope this exhibit will encourage others to explore the collection of government documents for research."

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Research guide to U.S. government documents at Emory's Robert W. Woodruff Library

Previous exhibit: Federal government's role in dealing with disaster

Visitor Information

The exhibit is located in the Robert W. Woodruff Library on level 2 near the Library Service Desk. Parking is available in the Fishburne Parking Deck (Weekdays: free after 5pm, Weekends: free). “Visitors” hours at the Robert W. Woodruff Library are posted here.

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