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LENGTH: 17 min
CATEGORY: Educational & Instructional, Sound, Black & White
DIRECTOR: Charles F. Schwep
PRODUCER/PUBLISHER: Trident Films Inc. for the National Tuberculosis Association
Historian David Cantor looks at five films about nursing produced between the 1940s and 1970s. In the mid-20th century, American nursing leaders produced and deployed the motion picture as a modern tool of education, training, and recruitment. Hundreds of films were made, including informational, newsreel, and training movies for a variety of audiences. Unsuspected tells the story of a friendly, knowledgeable public health nurse who persuades a young mother that it’s in her family’s best interest to begin treatment for her TB symptoms immediately, by checking into a sanatorium….Read the Essay
About the Director: Charles Schwep was the founder of Trident Films, which also produced titles including Doctor, You’ve Got to be Kidding (1967), starring Sandra Dee and George Hamilton. In 1961, for their 14-minute short The Creation of Woman, Schwep and co-producer Ismail Merchant (later of Merchant Ivory Productions) were nominated for both the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award for best short film.
Warning: These films contain explicit images of disease and intrusive medical treatment. Viewer discretion advised.
Stills from Unsuspected
Other Films Featured in the Essay “Screening the Nurse: Film, Fear, and Narrative from the 1940s to the 1970s”
In the Collections of the National Library of Medicine
NLM Historical Audiovisuals Collection
T.B. Nurse Wallace, 1952: A dramatization of the arrival and settling-in of a newly-minted nurse at a tuberculosis sanitarium.
Career, ca.1958: The story of three Native American women attending the U.S. Public Health Service Indian School of Practical Nursing in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Nurse Combats Disease, 1962: With the aid of drawings, this film describes the nurse’s role in the prevention of disease, with emphasis on factors that lead to disease transmission and how to interrupt that chain.
NLM Prints & Photographs Collection
See thousands of postcards with nursing themes donated to NLM by Michael Zwerdling.
View the related online exhibition Pictures of Nursing: the Zwerdling Postcard Collection.
NLM Rare Book Collection
Tradition and Destiny of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, ca. 1949 is a detailed, illustrated, 52 page booklet about all aspects of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.
States regularly issued guides and manuals for public health nurses, such as this Manual for Public Health Nurses, from the state of Iowa in the late 1940s.
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