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DATE: 1938

LENGTH: 14 min

CATEGORY: Educational & Instructional, Sound, Black & White

DIRECTOR: Edgar Ulmer

PRODUCER/PUBLISHER: National Tuberculosis Association, Tuskegee Institute


From the late 1930s through the early 1940s, low-budget filmmaker and perennial Hollywood underdog, Edgar G. Ulmer (1904-1972), directed several educational health shorts for the National Tuberculosis Association (NTA), an organization founded in the early 1900s to raise money to combat TB. The NTA also ran a massive educational campaign, using film as one medium to reach the public. These films admirably served the educational mission of the media-savvy NTA, but were not mere promotional products. They are also the work of a director with a unique understanding of the role germs—literal and metaphorical—play in the American social fabric. Germs, and a unique notion of fate’s communicability and the hand human beings have in the chain of actual or conceptual contagion, unite Ulmer’s body of work, which included many theatrical productions as well. This film was part of a series the NTA sponsored in an effort to reach communities where TB still lingered, in this case, African-Americans….Read The Essay

Supplementary Materials

Portrait of Edward Ulmer

External Resources


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