Grad student Julia Cummiskey’s paper ‘Drugs, Race and Tuberculosis Control in Baltimore, 1950-1978’, is now available on advanced access in Social History of Medicine. Many congratulations Julia!
Two narratives dominate histories of post-WWII tuberculosis control. One emphasizes the successes of antibiotic therapy in the 1950s and 1960s, the subsequent decline in resources for tuberculosis management, and the resurgence of tuberculosis in the 1990s. The second centres on the development of the global DOTS strategy and privileges those aspects of earlier control efforts that appear to be precursors to DOTS. Both narratives underemphasize diverse efforts by public health authorities across the world to manage the possibilities and challenges of antibiotic therapy. These efforts were shaped by local social and political contexts. The history of Baltimore’s tuberculosis control programme between 1950 and 1978 illustrates the complex array of strategies public health officials employed as well as the way they adapted strategies from other jurisdictions. It highlights continuities between the pre-antibiotic and the post-antibiotic history of tuberculosis, and ways that persistent racial tropes influenced tuberculosis control programmes.