The Preamble of The United States Constitution declares that a primary reason for the establishment of the government is to "provide for the general welfare," of its citizens. Upon this premise our representatives have supported governmental engagement in the field of public health to varying degrees since the founding of the nation. The history of this involvement is complex. It is the story of inspiring successes and profound failures. It includes the development of health policies which brought positive results and even reached beyond our borders to help people in other countries. A fair accounting of this history also acknowledges the government's complicity in impacting the lives of some people in a negative way who were manipulated for the sake of medical experimentation. This sampling of records from the holdings of the National Archives at Atlanta provides evidence for this complicated tale of epidemics, ethics, and education.
An exhibit featuring documents about the United States government's involvement in public health. Throughout history our representatives have implemented policies aimed at improving the health of our citizens. These actions have not been without controversy. The records in the National Archives at Atlanta bear evidence of this dual legacy in regard to public awareness, legal and social issues, preventative measures, occupational safety, environmental impacts, and global outreach.