Radiology history: 1939 chest screening


Original file on wikimedia commons here

Photo depicting screening of apprentices in a steel plant in Mannheim, Germany, in 1939. As far as I can tell the chap standing with his back to us, resting his arms on the equipment, would squat down and peer into the machine (just where his hands are) at the chest of each young man in turn. Which means he was staring straight into the xray tube, with on the apprentice and the fluoro screen between him and it. 

Every time I see a photo like this I go through the same mental cascade. 

  1. Huh? Crazy. What sort of lunatic would stare into an xray tube hours at a time? They must have been cretins.  
  2. Hmmm... hang on.. we are probably no smarter than they were; they just didn't know any better. 
  3. Errr... what will folk in 80 years time be looking at that we are doing today with the same thoughts?


Image source:

Scan from a reprint by the National Insurance Institute of Baden from 1939. This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and its author is anonymous. Original file on wikimediacommons here


Dr Frank Gaillard is a neuroradiologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, and is the Founder and Editor of

NB: Opinions expressed are those of the author alone, and are not those of his employer, or of


All postsShare

Blog post information

Tags: history
Publication date: 28th Jun 2014 04:36 UTC

Blog Subscription

We will only send you an email when there are new posts.

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.