The Most Likely Victim…the Busy Man. Ads from Hygeia Magazine

By Johanna Goldberg, Information Services Librarian

This is part of an intermittent series of blogs featuring advertisements from medical journals. You can find the entire series here.

From 1923–1949, the American Medical Association published Hygeia, an educational health magazine for the American public.

Where today you might find Highlights Magazine, Men’s Health, or Prevention at the doctor’s office, Hygiea once filled that role. It frequently included activities to entertain youth, along with health-related articles for their parents. Schools and libraries subscribed—the magazine was a common classroom resource—as well as individuals. In 1950, the magazine became Today’s Health, which continued publication until 1976.1

Along with articles and activities, Hygeia included a wealth of advertisements. Here, we take a look at those focused on men and work. These ads often tie men’s health issues to work stresses (or, in one ad, boys’ health to school posture). One in particular, a Parke Davis and Company ad from March 1936, shows a commuting man reading a newspaper and states, “The greatest problem Medicine faces today is to get the average person to take advantage, in time, of the help it has to offer him.” This problem continues today: Men are more likely than women to smoke, drink, make other choices detrimental to health, and delay seeking medical attention.2 A series of Parke Davis ads—along with ads from other companies—shows the dangers for men who neglect medical problems, often choosing work over seeking care.

Parke Davis Ad in Hygeia Magazine, March 1936. Click to enlarge.

Parke Davis Ad in Hygeia Magazine, March 1936. Click to enlarge.

Other ads show men and boys in need of products that accentuate their manliness (like Ivory soap: “Most men don’t want to smell like ‘beauty shoppes’”) or provide them the energy needed to get through the workday or wartime (like General Mills, which offered materials on teaching nutrition to help prevent military rejections due to malnutrition).

A third stream of advertisements depicts men as trustworthy medical professionals, even in times of war. The lab coat-wearing Walgreen pharmacist is “a specialist in accuracy.” Sealtest Company doctors offer physicals “as rigid as those in the army.” Wartime doctors, says one Wyeth ad, will remain abroad once the war is done to “prevent epidemics” or return home to care “for casualties of the world’s greatest war.”

When women move into the workplace during the war years, the ads that follow show them as competent employees and a feminizing influence on the workplace. “Let’s not ration loveliness,” advises a 1943 ad from Luzier’s, a cosmetic and perfume company. “With more and more women doing the work of men in defense jobs and in the armed forces, not to mention the thousands of women in various branches of OCD, it is desirable that we cling to those nice habits of personal care…which are such an integral part of the loveliness of American womanhood.”

Click on an ad to enlarge the image.

Neglect of medical problems:

Eastman Kodak ad inHygeia Magazine, January 1936. Click to enlarge.

Eastman Kodak ad in Hygeia Magazine, January 1936. Click to enlarge.

American Seating Company ad inHygeia Magazine, June 1936. Click to enlarge.

American Seating Company ad in Hygeia Magazine, June 1936. Click to enlarge.

Metropolitan Life Insurance ad in Hygeia Magazine, December 1936. Click to enlarge.

Metropolitan Life Insurance ad in Hygeia Magazine, December 1936. Click to enlarge.

Parke Davis ad in Hygeia Magazine, April 1945. Click to enlarge.

Parke Davis ad in Hygeia Magazine, April 1945. Click to enlarge.

Parke Davis ad in Hygeia Magazine, August 1945. Click to enlarge.

Parke Davis ad in Hygeia Magazine, August 1945. Click to enlarge.

SoftLite Lenses ad in Hygeia Magazine, December 1945. Click to enlarge.

SoftLite Lenses ad in Hygeia Magazine, December 1945. Click to enlarge.

Metropolitan Life Insurance ad inHygeia Magazine, October 1948. Click to enlarge.

Finally, a man who gets medical attention and follow his doctor’s advice! Metropolitan Life Insurance ad in Hygeia Magazine, October 1948. Click to enlarge.

Accentuating “manliness”:

Ivory Soap ad in Hygeia Magazine, January 1932. Click to enlarge.

Ivory Soap ad in Hygeia Magazine, January 1932. Click to enlarge.

Lifebuoy Health Soap ad in Hygeia Magazine, May 1932. Click to enlarge.

Lifebuoy Health Soap ad in Hygeia Magazine, May 1932. Click to enlarge.

Energy boosts:

Kellogg's Kaffee Hag ad in Hygeia Magazine, February 1931. Click to enlarge.

Kellogg’s Kaffee Hag ad in Hygeia Magazine, February 1931. Click to enlarge.

General Foods ad in Hygeia Magazine, January 1932. Click to enlarge.

General Foods ad in Hygeia Magazine, January 1932. Click to enlarge.

Bordens Malted Milk ad in ad in Hygeia Magazine, December 1932. Click to enlarge.

Bordens Malted Milk ad in ad in Hygeia Magazine, December 1932. Click to enlarge.

General Mills ad in Hygeia Magazine, August 1945. Click to enlarge.

General Mills ad in Hygeia Magazine, August 1945. Click to enlarge.

Medical professionals:

Sealtest Milk Metropolitan Life Insurance ad inHygeia Magazine, September 1943. Click to enlarge.

Sealtest Milk Metropolitan Life Insurance ad inHygeia Magazine, September 1943. Click to enlarge.

Wyeth ad in Hygeia Magazine, January 1945. Click to enlarge.

Wyeth ad in Hygeia Magazine, January 1945. Click to enlarge.

Walgreen ad in Hygeia Magazine, February 1948. Click to enlarge.

Walgreen ad in Hygeia Magazine, February 1948. Click to enlarge.

Women in the workforce:

General Electric ad in Hygeia Magazine, February 1943. Click to enlarge.

General Electric ad in Hygeia Magazine, February 1943. Click to enlarge.

Luzier's ad in Hygeia Magazine, July 1943. Click to enlarge.

Luzier’s ad in Hygeia Magazine, July 1943. Click to enlarge.

References

1. Hansen K. Newsstand: 1925: Hygeia. Available at: http://uwf.edu/dearle/enewsstand/enewsstand_files/Page4115.htm. Accessed October 30, 2015.

2. Men’s Health. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/menshealth.html. Accessed October 30, 2015.

One thought on “The Most Likely Victim…the Busy Man. Ads from Hygeia Magazine

  1. Pingback: “Solving Woman’s Oldest Hygienic Problem in a New Way”: A History of Period Products | Books, Health and History

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