An exhibition entitled 'A Short History of Tuberculosis' was produced by the University's Centre for Global Health Histories (CGHH) and held at the York Medical Society as part of the 2013 York Festival of Ideas. This exhibition tied in with the Festival theme of 'North and South' by exploring and comparing socio-political and ethnic/national perspectives on the disease from across the globe and included images from the collections of the Wellcome Trust and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The exhibition was accompanied by a very well-received public lecture by Dr Helen Bynum on her new book Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis published by Oxford University Press, which was delivered to a capacity audience. The exhibition drew a similarly positive response. The images encouraged the visitors to reflect on their lived experience of the disease, including its effect on their own health or that of close friends and family. Many were spurred to find out more about the current situation and attendees also expressed their delight at seeing and hearing of examples beyond the British context.
The exhibition was shown again at the University's Heslington East Campus for a fortnight at the end of September and the beginning of October to coincide with the inaugural C2D2 Conference.
An associated publication in English and Portuguese was produced to accompany the exhibition and made available freely as a hard copy and electronic download. This book features introductions from historians from CGHH and elsewhere as well as current members of the WHO’s Stop TB Department. The publication is available to download from the CGHH website. The events and selected images from the exhibition also featured on the Wellcome Library's Blog.
The exhibition and associated activities were successful in raising the profile of both Wellcome Trust-funded Centres involved (C2D2 & CGHH) in Yorkshire and beyond, in creating greater awareness about Tuberculosis, and in encouraging people to consider the diverse histories behind current health issues. The project also helped consolidate existing links between the World Health Organization and the University of York.
It has since been decided that the exhibition will be displayed at the World Health Assembly 2014 in the main corridor of the Palais in Geneva.
Alexander Medcalf, Henrice Altink, Monica Saavedra & Sanjoy Bhattacharya (eds.). Tuberculosis: A Short History. Orient Black Swan, 2013
Review 'A Historical Portrait of Tuberculosis'. Lancet Infectious Diseases. Vol. 13 (Dec 2013)