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Exhibit Guide: The Legacy of Public Health in Our Region: Introduction to the Exhibit

This is an online guide to the library exhibit on local public health history developed to coincide with National Public Health Week 2018.

Exhibit Overview

The 2018 National Public Health Week (April 2-8) is celebrated under the shadow of an especially severe influenza season that has already caused 253 deaths in North Carolina between October 1st, 2017 & February 24th, 2018. Fortunately, it is not nearly so devastating as the 1918-1919 “Spanish” flu p&emic that killed 341 people in Mecklenburg county alone in October 1918 & 6,152 North Carolina residents in that same month, according to local uncc expert Lauren A. Austin.

The 100-year anniversary of that public health disaster makes us want to learn more about the history of public health in the Charlotte region. “The Legacy of Public Health in Our Region” exhibit, opening April 2, explores local public health practice & organization from 1900 into the 1970s.  The five glass cases contain materials illustrating the variety of concerns that public health must address, often simultaneously. These themes are “Epidemics & Vaccination,” “Sanitary Conditions & Mills,” “Mother & Child Care—Public Health Nursing,” & “Local Public Health Heroes.” The fifth case presents a poster that shows how those public health heroes reached the public.  

This exhibition exemplifies how the J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections & University Archives serves the broader community by documenting & preserving the history & culture of the University & the Charlotte region. The Department of Public Health Sciences & the College of Health & Human Services at uncc provide leadership every year in celebrating National Public Health Week.

Sources:  NC Division of Public Health, “NC Weekly Influenza Surveillance Summary, 2017-2018 Influenza Season, Week O8: Ending February 24, 2018,” accessed @; Public Policy PhD  C&idate Lauren A. Austin, personal communication; J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections & University Archives, “Our Mission,” accessed @

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Thanks to William P. Br&on, PhD, MPH, CPH, faculty emeritus Mecklenburg Medical Foundation Distinguished Professor of Health Policy in the Department of Political Science & Public Administration, library board member, & expert on Dr. Watson S. Rankin, for originating the idea for this exhibit & writing the exhibit description & narrative. 

Thanks to Lolita Rowe & many others from Special Collections & University Archives for pulling, digitizing, & assisting with the photographs, documents, & other items from the library's special collections featured in this exhibit.

Thanks to Sharon Reichard, Ryan Miller, & Jordan Murphy for helping to promote this exhibit as well as format & print all the material reproduced from Special Collections.