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2002/101/4 Poster, 'Keep your home clean', health, paper, printed by V C N Blight, Government Printer, produced by the New South Wales Department of Public Health, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1955. Click to enlarge.

'Keep your home clean' public health poster

Made
For more than a century posters have given visual expression to the reach of public health. Appropriating the techniques of consumer culture, their messages have advertised everything from hand-washing to hair-nets, from vaccination to X-rays. Produced by government departments and community organisations, posters have had a role in combating infectious disease, drugs, and poor nutrition, and in promoting healthy habits, workplace safety, and sexual health.

The 'Keep your home clean' poster is one of a collection of 17 Australian health and safety posters that have survived from the 1950s. In their range they cover many of the public health issues that concerned government authorities at that time. One of these issues was cleanliness. The mid-20th century was a time when personal and civic cleanliness was stressed as a means of combatting disease, both because dirt itself harboured germs and because filth and litter attracted vermin - such as rats and flies - that were branded as disease-carriers.

This small collection of posters illustrates the serendipitous way in which important material sometimes finds its way into museum collections. They were found by the vendor when assisting a friend to go through his late mother's possessions. Leftovers from the days when the woman had been a scripture teacher, the backs of unused posters like these had served as classroom teaching aids on which she wrote her lessons. Recognising their historic and aesthetic value the vendor saved them and eventually offered them to the Powerhouse Museum.

Summary

Object No.

2002/101/4

Object Statement

Poster, 'Keep your home clean', health, paper, printed by V C N Blight, Government Printer, produced by the New South Wales Department of Public Health, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1955

Physical Description

Poster, 'Keep your home clean', health, paper, [printed by V C N Blight, Government Printer, Sydney], produced by the New South Wales Department of Public Health, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1955

Rectangular, colour poster in landscape format, titled 'Keep your home clean', promoting disease prevention through the elimination of rats from the domestic environment. The poster features a large black and white photographic image of a rat and a list of diseases carried by rats, fleas and flies. Production details printed bottom left.

Marks

Title inscribed across top, printed in red text "KEEP YOUR HOME CLEAN".
Text inscribed down right side, printed in yellow abd black text "DIRTY / BACKYARDS / bring / RATS, / FLEAS, / FLIES / Vermin help to spread - / DIARRHOEA, CHOLERA, / PLAGUE (BUBONIC), TYPHUS / WELL'S DISEASE (EPIDEMIC / JAUNDICE) / RAT BITE FEVER, FOOD POISONING".
Production details inscribed lower left corner printed in black "ISSUED BY THE N.S.W. DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH".

Dimensions

Height

362 mm

Width

495 mm

Production

Notes

Produced by the New South Wales Department of Public Health and almost certainly printed by V.C.N. Blight, Government Printer, Sydney.

The graphic style and the content of the collection of health and safety posters amongst which this particular poster was found suggest that they were all produced around the 1950s.

History

Notes

According to the vendor, these posters were found when he was helping a friend go through his late mother's possessions. The woman had been a scripture teacher and utilized the backs of unused posters as classroom teaching aids to write her scripture lessons. It is not known where she obtained the posters in the first place.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 2002

Acquisition Date

6 September 2002

Cite this Object

Harvard

'Keep your home clean' public health poster 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 21 April 2021, <https://ma.as/11002>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/11002 |title='Keep your home clean' public health poster |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=21 April 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}