Many people like to study the nude bodies of other people. This study studied some of those students of student bodies:
“Using the student body: College and university students as research subjects in the United States during the twentieth century,” Heather Munro Prescott, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, vol. 57, no. 1, 2002, pp. 3-38. (Thanks to Ben Wurgaft for bringing this to our attention.) The author explains:
Among the major results of these efforts were the infamous “posture pictures” collected at many elite men’s and women’s colleges around the country. The practice of photographing students in the nude started in the late nineteenth century, and continued well into the 19705. The original purpose of these photographs was to assess the physical health of students at admission, since many believed that poor posture was a sign of illness, particularly tuberculosis. Students were photographed every year to demonstrate the positive impact of physical education programs and other preventive health measures in college.
Physicians soon realized that these data could do more than demonstrate the effectiveness of physical education programs: they could also be used to show the physical superiority of young people from the white, native-born, upper-middle classes.