Minding Morals

Controlling venereal diseases (VD)—such as syphilis and gonorrhea—was a high priority for the military and the American people. With cooperation from community organizations, the military launched an unprecedented program of sexual education as part of its efforts to combat VD. The program sought to influence behavior through candid discussion of the causes and consequences of disease. Abstinence was considered the moral duty of every soldier to his family and country.

Public health poster addressing venereal disease.  Issued by the American Social Hygiene Association and War Department Commission on Training Camp Activities.

Venereal disease at Camp Lewis, 1918
Camp Lewis, near Tacoma, Washington, was the first of sixteen training camps built around the nation for the U.S. Army draftees. The camp could house fifty thousand men and covered about nine square miles.

In order to be a good fighting man you must be, 1917–1918
Poster exhibitions at training camps provided recruits with information about VD. This is the first panel in a series that included medical facts and warnings about immoral behavior.

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