Stories

How wartime propaganda encouraged Brits to wear masks

Although wearing face masks in many situations is now compulsory, COVID-19 has exposed scientific disagreement on their efficacy. The British government has been, accordingly, ambivalent. But a short propaganda film released during the Blitz reveals that masks were not always as contentious as they are today.

Words by Jesse Olszynko-Gryn and words by Caitjan Gainty

  • In pictures

About the authors

Photograph of Jesse Olszynko-Gryn

Jesse Olszynko-Gryn

Jesse Olszynko-Gryn is a historian of science, technology and medicine at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. He is Co-Principle Investigator on an AHRC-DFG-funded project exploring the contested use of drugs in pregnancy and the risk of birth defects since thalidomide. His first book will reconstruct the remarkable transformation of pregnancy testing from an esoteric laboratory tool to a commonplace of everyday life.

Photograph of Caitjan Gainty

Caitjan Gainty

Caitjan Gainty is a historian of 20th-century health and healthcare at King's College, London. She is Principal Investigator on the Wellcome-funded ‘Healthy Scepticism’ project and is completing her first book about the distinctively industrial origins of modern healthcare in the United States.