Johnny, Janie, and 'The In-Between Period': A 1953 Sex-Ed Film

By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

Two adolescents grapple with the challenges of growing up in Physical Aspects of Puberty, a very awkward educational film from textbook publisher McGraw-Hill. Courtesy of the Prelinger Archive, the film uses tastefully minimal line drawings of human anatomy to map out physical changes in boys and girls. The film seems geared towards teens, but the narrator has a few words of advice for parents too:

We have seen that Johnny and Janie have developed great capacity for activity mentally, emotionally, and physically. They have grown much stronger, and they are able to do many things much better ... There is a sudden expansion of their social horizons; their relationship with their friends is new and tremendously exciting.

They are likely to carry some of their activities to excess. They may burn the candle at both ends! And if they don't watch out, fatigue! General achiness, digestive troubles, susceptibility to infectious diseases, or even imaginary illness caused by emotional maladjustment may develop. These are common dangers during adolescence ... There are many aspects of normal physical growth, especially during puberty, that may strongly influence social and emotional growth. Therefore, each Johnny and each Janie need the sympathy, understanding, and cooperation of parents and teachers to help them through these in-between years we call the age of puberty. 

For more films from the Prelinger Archive, visit http://archive.org/details/prelinger.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/12/johnny-janie-and-the-in-between-period-a-1953-sex-ed-film/265864/