Public health information campaigns

Anti-smoking public health campaign materials. Washington State Archives. Department of Social and Health Services Photographs Collection. c. 1964.


Throughout their history, state and local health departments, including the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, have responded to public health issues with public service and information campaigns. These campaigns communicate the dangers posed by public-health threats – such as tuberculosis, cigarette smoking, and HIV/AIDS – and persuade the public to take action to protect their health and well-being.


Start with secondary sources 

Use secondary sources to gain basic knowledge of your topic, its significance, and historical context.

Ask a Librarian online at Washington State Library to get expert help in locating useful secondary sources. 


Then use primary sources

Use primary sources to deepen your understanding of the topic, and assemble evidence to support your own analysis and interpretation.

Ask an Archivist online at Washington State Archives to get expert help in locating useful primary sources.


Some key historical research questions:

  • Why were public information campaigns focused on specific health issues?
  • What strategies were developed to inform and persuade the public?
  • How were those strategies implemented?
  • What were the results of these campaigns?
  • How did the public respond?
  • What kinds of public information campaigns did other health agencies undertake?
  • How are public information campaigns done by other types of agencies?
  • Consider other possibilities for historical questions as you analyze and interpret this topic.


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