This film is part of Free

Mass Radiography

TB or not TB – that is the question travelling x-ray screening programmes are out to answer on a large scale

Public Information Filler 1943 10 mins


Encouraging tens of thousands of people to strip to the waist and have their photo taken isn't easy. But the chest x-ray screening programme was a key part of the fight against tuberculosis, the cause of over 20,000 deaths in 1943. This film shows factory worker Mary overcoming her initial qualms, and ultimately sending a signed copy of her topless skeleton photo to her boyfriend.

Chest x-rays had helped diagnose TB since the 1900s, but the development of portable units in the late 1930s made mass screening schemes possible. The topsy-turvy life of the Home Front made the early diagnosis of infectious diseases like TB all the more important, leading to a big push of the programme from 1943 onwards. Despite the modesty chest covers for the women, you can imagine that this was a far happier scheme to run in the summer.