Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Kathi Kern


Public health officials and social reformers grew concerned over the prevalence of gonorrhea and syphilis following World War I. The initiatives put in place by authorities to control the spread of venereal disease lacked any concern for women’s health and sought to control their newly found independence and mobility. This thesis examines public health policies related to venereal disease control from 1920-1945 and how these regulations affected women in the United States. Laws and social reform measures such as pre-marital blood tests, the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act, and the use of quarantining prostitutes during World War I and World War II were passed by government officials to ensure the future of America as a fit fighting force of men, placing women’s health concerns last in its race for domination. Women essentially were marked as the diseased dangers to America’s health.

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