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American Social Hygiene Association Posters for Boys

This girl may become an invalid for life if she marries a man who has had gonorrhea not entirely cured. Gonorrhea causes: 1. Many surgical operations upon women; 2. Much invalidism among innocent wives; 3. Many childless marriages.

American Social Hygiene Association: “Keep Fit” Posters for Boys and Young Men

Introduction: At the beginning of the twentieth century venereal disease was a prevalent concern for social health organizations. Diseases such a syphilis and gonorrhea affected many people and the social stigma attached to sexually transmitted disease prevented most people from discussing or addressing means of treatment for venereal disease. In 1913, at a conference in Buffalo, New York, several organizations dedicated to fighting prostitution and venereal disease joined together to form the American Social Hygiene Association (ASHA).

During the 1920s, ASHA served as a central coordinator for the local or regional committees, doctors, public health officials, and social welfare agencies that were combating venereal disease and vice. In addition to the continued fight against venereal disease and prostitution, ASHA published the Journal of Social Hygiene and the Social Hygiene Bulletin. The organization also promoted character and sex education as a means of preventing the spread of venereal disease. The ASHA educational program emphasized preparation for a wholesome family life, avoiding venereal disease, and physical as well as moral fitness. Below are selected “Keep Fit” posters designed to educate young males.

(Note: These images were scanned from a set of 48 original posters in the Social Welfare History Archives at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The American Social Health Association, an organization that has focused on the elimination of sexually transmitted diseases since the early 1900s, kept copies of posters that they had produced or sponsored, as well as others produced by various government agencies. ASHA donated the posters to the Social Welfare History Archives along with the rest of their historical records.)



A new experience comes into the lives of most boys when they become about 15, 16, or 17years old (like the boys above). Occasionally (about one to four times a month) a fluid from inside the body is discharged from the sex organ during sleep. This is a natural experience. It is called a seminal emission.
Keep fit for athletics, study, business, and all of life’s tasks by adopting these rules: 1. Exercise and play wisely. 2. Eat wholesome food. 3. Get all the fresh air possible. 4. Get sufficient sleep. 5. Keep clean9 Treat every girl as you would like to have another man or boy treat your sister, girl friend, or sweetheart.
2 Keep your mind occupied with good books. Some good ones are: Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson; Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain; The Virginian, by Owen Wister; The Crisis, by Winston Churchill; The Making of an American, by Jacob A. Riis; The Last of the Mohicans, by J. Fenimore Cooper; The Doctor, by Ralph Connor; Kim, by Rudyard Kipling; Poems of Action, by David R. Porter; High Adventure, by Captain Norman Hall; Men of Iron, by Howard Pyle; The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come, by John Fox, Jr.; Profitable Vocations for Boys, by Weaver and Byler.
The sex instinct in a boy or man makes him want to act, dare, possess, strive. When controlled and directed, it gives ENERGY, ENDURANCE, FITNESS.
Men who fail to develop self-control sometimes yield to sex temptation to indulge in sexual intercourse with immoral girls and become infected with a venereal (sex) disease. The chief venereal diseases are syphilis (pox) and gonorrhea (clap).


For Further Reading:

The Case Against the Red Light” (1920), a pamphlet created by the American Social Hygiene Association for the United States Public Health Service

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