World War poster


In an entry for The Public’s Health, a blog at, Janet Golden, a professor at Rutgers University–Camden, used former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s remark that women were “helpless without Uncle Sugar ... providing ... birth control because they cannot control their libido” to recall a public health announcement addressing soldiers’ libidos during the two world wars.

Readers of, the website of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, have been treated lately to informative, and entertaining, nuggets of medical and public health history through The Public’s Health, a blog to which Janet Golden, a professor in the Department of History at Rutgers University–Camden, contributes. In it, she is apt to inform you why the “Bible of Psychiatry”—that is, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition)—is inadequate in explaining a common malady, lovesickness, while Bruce Springsteen recounts causes and cures with clinical precision. In acknowledgment of the centennial of the start of the Great War, Golden explains how the “motorized ambulance” and early forms of plastic surgery came into being during World War I.

And Golden doesn’t pull any punches. In one blog entry, she wonders why Pennsylvania spent more money subsidizing in-state production of Hollywood movies that glorify smoking than it did on smoking-prevention public service announcements. She used former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s January remark, criticizing Democrats for making women believe they were “helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing ... birth control because they cannot control their libido ...” to serve up a history lesson about the prevalence of condom distribution during World War II for American soldiers and their wayward libidos.

“As a historian of health and medicine, I think historical insights are important to our contemporary debates,” says Golden, also a co-organizer of the working group at the Philadelphia Area Center for the History of Science that researches the history of medicine. “And I think humor, which I enjoy writing, can be enlightening and help readers engage with a topic. They can laugh and get the message.”