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I've seen some posts going around talking about the lists of diagnoses we see for young Steve Rogers in the MCU, and trying to conceptualize them in terms of Steve as a character with disabilities, and while I fully support people writing fic with Steve having any disabilities they want, there's some misconceptions that I'm seeing gain more and more of a foothold in fanon.

So here's my poor attempt at talking about Steve's diagnoses.

I say "diagnoses" rather than illnesses or disabilities deliberately, because the most important thing to keep in mind when thinking about this is that disability and disease are both defined by culture - the same person with the same symptoms in two different cultures might be seen, by both themself and the culture, as having entirely different problems.

Here's an example: it's easy to say that "a broken leg is a broken leg", but where a broken leg, in today's America, might mean a few weeks in a cast and crutches followed by a while in a walking cast and some annoying medical bureaucracy, the exact same injury in a culture with different medical capabilities might mean months of being unable to get around without help, followed by permanent mobility impairment and chronic pain if the bone heals wrong, and a serious risk of death from blood poisoning. Or a broken leg these days might mean a hairline fracture that's only visible on medical imaging, which a different culture might not classify as the same kind of injury as a broken leg at all. Or maybe in a hundred years, a broken leg will mean a week in a custom power exoskeleton and home regen treatments, and the only reason you have to skip soccer practice is that power armor is cheating, and it's less annoying than a cold. When you get into conditions less straightforward than a broken leg, it gets exponentially more complicated.

The culture Steve Rogers grew up in, 1920s-1940s New York City, had a lot in common with modern American urban culture, but it was very different in a lot of ways, and one of the ways it was very different was in terms of medical culture. The medical advances that came around WWII changed the ways Americans think about illness, disease, and disability in dramatic ways - as two random examples, antibiotics weren't widely used until after the war, and it wasn't shown that DNA contains genetic information until 1943.

So you can't just look at a list of diagnoses made in 1943, and assume they mean at all the same thing that a similar diagnosis would mean today, in terms of what symptoms they're describing, or in terms of what those symptoms meant for the person experiencing them, or in terms of the way the medical establishment and culture responded to them.

The other thing to keep in mind is that most of the information we have comes from Steve Rogers' army intake medical forms, which were not exactly a reliable source even in that 1940s context, given that we know Steve was lying his ass off in them. Even if he wasn't lying, his initial interview and exams would have been hastily done by a doctor who had probably done hundreds of similar exams that day. So we can't assume that the marks we see on the papers are even accurate in terms of describing Steve's health - there could be all sorts of errors, shortcuts, and downright lies on them.

Also, most of this information comes from prop canon, which is legendarily unreliable (Bucky currently has two different birth years based on prop canon!) There are several lists of diagnoses going around, which are all different from each other. I've tried to trace back the actual canon they come from, when I can (mostly using Google Image Search, to be fair.) I'm going to go down them in order of presumed reliability.

First, we've got actual, non-prop canon, which comes down to the two things that were said out loud at Steve's initial exam:

  1. Asthma: "You'll be ineligible on your asthma alone," the doctor says.

    I've seen several things bemoaning the fact that too many fanwriters only mention his asthma, ignoring his serious health conditions. If there's only one thing people take away from this post, I want it to be that when Steve was growing up, asthma alone was enough to make a child seriously disabled.

    Today, while asthma is still a scary condition that can kill people, we have effective treatments that means it's possible for most people with asthma to live pretty much like anyone else, as long as they keep track of their medication and carry an inhaler or other emergency treatments. But in Steve's day, while there were some supposed remedies, there were no effective treatments for asthma, and if someone suffered a severe asthma attack, all their loved ones could do was watch while they suffocated to death. The only effective way to protect someone with asthma from death at any moment was to keep them away from anything that might trigger an attack, and one of the few known triggers for attacks was heavy physical exertion.

    Many asthmatic children were kept housebound even when they felt well, watching out the windows as the other children ran and played in ways they were told would kill them. Even if they weren't banned from going outside at all, they would likely have a doctor's note keeping them from going out at recess or taking part in sports or gym, and they would be told, over and over, from the time they were first diagnosed, that they had to be careful at all times, because running, or roughhousing, or swimming, or god forbid fighting, or any kind of exertion or shock, could kill them. (You can tell how well Steve listened - but even if he ignored his restrictions, he would still have known, because it was pounded at him from earliest childhood, that anytime he got in a fight, or ran, or did something that might lead to running or fighting, he was rolling the dice on whether it would kill him this time. ...and you wonder why he jumps out of planes with no parachute.)

    Our modern stereotype for an asthmatic is the fat kid who spends all day playing video games. In Steve's day, the stereotype asthmatic was the frail, skinny, sickly, delicate kid who you have to treat like fine china, who can never go outside to play and will probably die young.

    You don't need anything other than the asthma to have a Steve who grew up thinking of himself as, and being treated as, very sick and what today we'd call seriously disabled. Don't compare him to modern-day people with asthma: compare him to a modern-day child with a severe heart condition.

  2. Household contact with tuberculosis is what it says on the form; what the script says is that Steve's mother was a "nurse in a TB ward. Got hit, couldn't shake it."

    This one is dear to my heart because it's why my grandfather got his 4F. Tuberculosis is a strange disease. Before antibiotics, it killed the vast majority of people who showed symptoms, and it killed them slowly and painfully. The mystery was how you got TB - it seemed to be infectious, like colds or the flu, because you were way more likely to get it if you were around TB patients, but many, many people could spend their entire lives stewing in TB and never get sick. What was eventually discovered is that TB's infection rate is actually very high - that anyone who spends a lot of time around a sick person is very likely a carrier - but the majority of carriers never develop symptoms, and some people will develop symptoms only years or decades after they're infected.

    Why some people get sick and why some don't and why some suddenly get sick years after exposure is complicated - it's partly genetic, partly stress-related, probably some other factors. In the 1940s, all they knew was that a TB carrier was possibly a time bomb of infection, waiting to go off. With no reliable way to test for infection - the first really reliable and widespread TB test for carriers was developed in 1949 - and with the memory of the 1919 flu still fresh - the government decided that anybody with extensive exposure should be kept out of crowded military quarters.

    So just the fact that Steve's mother died of TB would have been enough to qualify him 4F, even if he was fine otherwise (my grandfather was healthy as a horse and never had any lung problems despite chainsmoking for 80 years, but he spent a summer working at a TB sanatorium in the mountains, and that was all it took for 4F.) Why he hadn't learned to lie about his TB exposure by his fifth try, I don't know - maybe he hadn't even made it that far, previous times, before they disqualified him for something else.


So that's it for non-prop canon, but by itself that's enough to give him a childhood of disability and a solid 4F for quarantine reasons. Then there's the prop canon on top of that. I'm going to go over the stuff from prop canon (and other canon) in vague order of how reliable I consider it.

The most extensive list from prop canon is a Selective Service medical history checklist, which I believe is shown at least partially in the movie though I am not 100% sure, and is available in full as a prop reproduction. It gives his name as "Rodgers, Steve" and his address as Brooklyn, so presumably it was either before he started or after he stopped lying his ass off. This seems to be the list that Marvel's PR/Merch people are treating as canonical - it's been reproduced in several "official" merchandising things and was on the Marvel website for awhile. Here's the list, pulled off the Marvel website:

The first Selective Service checklist
a checklist of assorted medical conditions, with options for yes, no, and don't know

The first three questions on the form are related to TB, to give you an idea of how much importance that was given by the Army. The "household contact with tuberculosis" item is checked, and the next item checked is "asthma". Here's the rest of the items, with what commentary I can give.

  1. Scarlet fever: Scarlet fever is a common, highly infectious, and very serious childhood disease. Most children with scarlet fever would recover fully, but there was a chance of death or permanent disability - young Steve shows no particular evidence of any of these, though. During Steve's childhood, especially in the crowded conditions of cities, epidemics would hit the schools on a regular cycle - it's probably more likely that he had scarlet fever than that he didn't, and it doesn't say much about his current health. The reason it's on the selective service form is that there's a small chance of serious complications occurring years after the original infection. I don't know if a history of scarlet fever alone would be enough for a 4F - given its prevalence, I seriously doubt it - but it certainly wouldn't help.

  2. Rheumatic fever: This is another disease caused by the same bacteria that cause scarlet fever. Like scarlet fever, the disease itself can kill you or disable you, and if you survive it, there can be serious side-effects that only become apparent later. The chance of side-effects is probably why it's on the form. There's no strong evidence that Steve has any of these long-term effects, although many of the heart symptoms listed below could be related, as the most common long-term result from rheumatic fever is permanent damage to the valves of the heart, so if he does have heart trouble, it may be a result of the rheumatic fever rather than anything congenital. Taken with scarlet fever, the general message of these two in context is "Steve was a sickly kid who caught every common illness that was going around, but was somehow stubborn enough to survive them all." (Rheumatic fever is not related to either rheumatoid arthritis or the condition colloquially known as the rheumatism, btw.)

  3. Chronic or frequent colds, sinusitis: Again, these basically just come down to "was sickly and caught every disease going around". It could be a sign of some underlying immune condition, it could be a result of general malnutrition or stress, it could be a side-effect of the asthma (which is itself an immune disorder)- either stress on the respiratory system from asthma symptoms, or the fact that he was kept indoors all the time in crowded buildings with poor ventilation, or the fact that some of the common asthma "treatments" were bad for the lungs.

  4. Palpitation or pounding in heart, high or low blood pressure, heart trouble: these are all fairly vague and it's hard to say what they meant in context. Even today, blood pressure readings taken at doctor's visits can be hard to interpret - somebody stressed out or excited by the exam can give consistently misleading readings. The heart trouble option is likely to have been used as an option for a doctor who didn't see anything specifically wrong with a patient but still thought they would probably die if they tried to go through Basic. Palpitation or pounding in heart may have just been generally "not in good cardio condition". These are also all diagnoses that are reasonably likely to have been given to a kid who was seen as delicate due to his asthma, spent a lot of time at the doctor's, was known to have had rheumatic fever, and was never allowed to get much cardio exercise. It's possible these are signs of a serious heart condition, or damage from the rheumatic fever, but it's also possible they just get added on to the general pile of "weak and sickly."

  5. Nervous trouble of any sort: Again, very vague - goodness knows what this could mean; it could basically be any psychiatric or emotional problems that were serious enough to go to a doctor; it could also be a history of, say, fainting or poor sleep as a result of general ill health, or depression caused by Steve, what is your life; it could be Steve being Steve in front of authority figures who decide that "justified lack of respect for authority" means "prescribe a tranquilizer"; it could also be carryover from the asthma, as some doctors thought asthma had a psychosomatic component. For that matter, it could be "kisses boys", depending on the feelings of the doctor who did the interview. So, again, vague, but pretty much all we can say is it adds to the general impression of sickly and delicate and spent a lot of time around doctors.

  6. Parent/sibling with diabetes, cancer, stroke, or heart disease: This one's interesting, because on the one hand it's so vague that it tells us basically nothing, and on the other hand, it's weirdly hard to figure out, because most of these things would've killed you in the 1940s, and Steve is kind of short of parents or siblings to kill. We know his mom died of TB and his dad died in the war (and therefore wasn't seriously ill before joining the Army) and he's an only child, so...? One possibility is an older sibling who died as a baby, likely before he was born. Another possibility is his mother had another serious illness alongside her TB (possibly precipitating her developing TB symptoms.) It's hard to say; basically all we know is that life hates Steve and Steve's family.

  7. Easy fatigability: which is to say, gets tired easily. Another one that's pretty vague. It could be a symptom of a bunch of underlying stuff; it could be a result of the asthma; it could be a result of never getting steady exercise, because of the asthma; it could be a result of not consistently getting enough to eat; it could just be a result of getting every single cold that comes through town.

So that covers it for that prop; I think it's just as important to note what's checked no there, though - no allergies, no sight or hearing problems, no digestive problems, no mobility problems or limb problems, not even any notable tooth decay - he's never so much as broken a bone. So the impression the Marvel PTB seem to be pushing pretty hard here is asthmatic, generally sickly and weak, but otherwise actually not doing too badly, and with no visible or obvious disabilities. (And remember, the asthma alone is serious, with a high risk of death, and essentially disabling.)


There's also a different version of the same form going around, which definitely appeared in the movie, but I've only found as a partial screenshot - it doesn't seem to have been reproduced in full. It contradicts the first checklist in major ways, and from a Doylist POV, my guess is they just had somebody check a bunch of boxes that would show on the film in a nice pattern. If we want to assume it's real, though, presumably it's the medical history screening checklist from one of Steve's other attempts to enlist. We can only see a few lines of it, but there's some interesting differences, especially if we assume the one above is when he wasn't lying, and this is one when he was saying whatever he thought would get him in.

a screencap showing a pile of paperwork including a sliver of a health checklist
Palpitations or pounding in heart is the only item that's checked "yes" on both sheets, that we can see. Interestingly, the partial sheet has "heart trouble" ticked "not" and "high or low blood pressure" ticked "don't know" - possibly at this point Steve was denying the ones he thought he could get away with. Also ticked "yes" are Bone, joint, or other deformity, painful or "trick" shoulder or elbow, pain or pressure in chest, cramps in legs, and frequent indigestion - all problems that are of a completely different quality than the ones in the first sheet. Given that it's all just prop canon, and the first sheet is the one that's been reproduced in secondary canon and as a prop replica, my instinct is to say that these boxes were ticked mostly because they're the ones that are visible in the screencap and make a nice pattern, and we aren't meant to pay attention. But if we want to be Watsonian about it, and maybe assume that Steve was lying even more than usual, here's some thoughts on these:

  1. Painful or "trick" shoulder or elbow: This is, again, very vague - it was probably worded to get men to admit to problems without sounding weak. A "trick" joint, in general, as my grandfather would use it, just means any joint that is sometimes fine, and is sometimes painful, weak, gives out, dislocates, or locks. A lot of "trick" joints were caused by an athletic or work injury or RSI - pitcher's shoulder, tennis elbow, strain from lifting heavy objects, etc. This could be Steve strategizing by lying on the ones that make him sound like a baseball player or a longshoreman; it could also be that Steve really does have an old injury or some kind of chronic joint disorder; it could also be that he's given himself an RSI from doing too much drawing with bad posture. Under that box it's unlikely to be anything that causes major, constant mobility problems - although it could be, given the vagueness of the form.


  2. Frequent indigestion: this could be a lot of things, including a food sensitivity or a chronic gastrointestinal illness. It could also be "ate ten pounds of bananas in hopes of making it over the weight limit and trying to pass it off as just being sick, not cheating on the exam, and the doctor was kind and 4F'd me for indigestion rather than cheating." (People did things like eating ten pounds of bananas or drinking gallons and gallons of water in order to be heavy enough to pass the physical.)


  3. Pain or pressure in chest: This goes on the list with the other vaguely-heart-related ones: could be a sign of serious heart trouble or damage from rheumatic fever; could be general lack of cardio fitness from never getting strenuous sustained exercise except when getting beat up; could be the doctor asking questions in different ways about the same vague "he's sickly and probably has a bad heart" diagnosis he got when he was ten. If you buy the "indigestion" one above, could just be frequent heartburn.


  4. Cramps in legs: Like a lot of the other vague-sounding ones, this is probably on there as something to follow-up as necessary because it may be a sign of something serious; Steve was probably out for the asthma before they ever got around to following up. I have to admit I'm not sure what, in a 1940s context, this one is likely to be fishing for - my first guess is post-polio syndrome, but it's just a guess. Could be anything to minor leg problems that would get a lot worse on a 50-mile forced march, to more screening for cardiac problems.


  5. Bone, joint, or other deformity: Again, vague enough to be anything. My best guess here is that it's a reference to the scoliosis diagnosis that comes up on some of the other lists (see below). But with no other info, it could be almost anything from bone spurs or flat feet to a serious bone or joint problem.


There's also another list going around, which comes from an SSR intake form that seems to have been distributed with a special edition DVD box set - as far as I know, this is never visible in the movies. It has a list of "medical ailments" and a list of "family history of medical problems", which don't line up well with the other lists, so I'm hesitant to consider it reliable canon. However, this could be due to the fact that Steve is being more honest with Erskine than he ever has previously, or had much more thorough medical exams. So let's look at it anyway.
The SSR Form
a form listing Steve's vital statistics and a handwritten list of ailments, and his consent to take part in experiments.
Other than asthma and family history of TB, already covered, it includes the following.

  1. Anemia: This would probably not have been routinely tested for by the Selective Service, because the tests were time-consuming and required on-site equipment and training, but presumably Erskine did more thorough testing. Anemia can vary from a life-threatening, highly disabling illness to something that's only noticed on a blood test. Anemia could certainly cause the easy fatigability and some of the other symptoms of general sickliness on the other forms. There are a lot of causes of anemia - for Steve, the most likely causes would be due to a low-quality diet, such as deficiency of iron or certain vitamins, but it could be caused by other chronic illnesses. Mild anemia could also be caused by getting beat up the day before the exam and losing a lot of blood....


  2. Diabetic: Diabetes, like asthma, is a chronic illness that modern people are accustomed to thinking of as a dangerous inconvenience, but in Steve's childhood, juvenile-onset diabetes would have been dangerous, likely deadly, and disabling. By the early 1930s, insulin injections for Type 1 diabetics were beginning to be widely available; the course of Steve's childhood and young adulthood is a period of massive change in the treatment and social perception of diabetes and I don't really have the background to say anything else that's helpful about this - I hope someone else does! Steve would be young for Type 2 diabetes, but given his awful luck, it's possible - Type 2 was treated with dietary restrictions, much the same way it is now.


  3. Colour-blindness: Is interesting to me mostly in the context that this is one diagnosis that likely wouldn't have changed very much since the 1940s. It's also unlikely to have affected his eligibility for Army service, though it might have kept him out of the air force. (As a condition that's often purely genetic, it's interesting to think about whether or how the super-soldier serum would have affected it - if he was genetically color-blind, his body literally lacked the information it needs to make color-sensing cones. Did the serum actually add information to Steve's genes, or did it just optimize the expression of the genes he already had?) There's also a range of impairment that could be described by that term - it's possible that the SSR was giving him very rigorous tests and found a slight degree of anomalous color vision that would not have been noticeable otherwise.


  4. Heart Murmur: This is a diagnosis made by listening to the sounds of the heartbeat through a stethoscope. If Steve has a heart murmur, that's probably the explanation for all of the vague "heart trouble" mentions above. It's also fairly likely to have been caused by the rheumatic fever - valve damage resulting in heart murmur is one of the most common long-term effects of rheumatic fever. Symptoms of the heart murmur or valve damage could range from all of the fatigue, chest pain, and general heart trouble and weakness symptoms listed, to something so minor he didn't even notice until the doctor's exam.


  5. Scoliosis: The history of scoliosis over the 20th century is really, really complicated. As a diagnosis, it gained a lot of popularity in the years right after WWI - many draftees in WWI were seen to have orthopedic problems, and scoliosis screenings in schools were instituted in the 1920s, and continued right up to the end of the 20th century. In severe cases of scoliosis, the spine is twisted substantially out of alignment, and this can been seen in a person's stance as crooked shoulders and/or an uneven gait. We don't see any sign of that in young Steve, so it's unlikely his scoliosis is severe. However, especially during the early-mid 20th century, many cases of "mild" scoliosis were diagnosed as a result of the near-universal childhood screening. This is still fairly controversial - the scientific evidence that the sort of mild scoliosis that was often diagnosed actually caused any problems for the children in question is somewhat lacking, as is the evidence that many of the cases were anything other than "bad posture" turned into a health scare. However there is some evidence that mild scoliosis in childhood increases the chances of back pain or injury later in life. If Steve was diagnosed with some sort of mild scoliosis as a result of childhood screenings, it's unlikely the scoliosis itself would have had any particular effect on his life. However it's possible that the diagnosis and treatments - which ranged from posture exercises to inpatient physical therapy to being welded into metal back braces, depending on how much the parents bought in - could have had played a major role in his childhood.


  6. Family history of high blood pressure, family history of angina: 'Angina' just means "chest pain". It's possible that this is the solution to the Parent/sibling with diabetes, cancer, stroke, or heart disease mystery above - he may have had a parent who had high blood pressure and recurrent chest pain.


There's also an Army form on the Marvel Look Inside Gallery for Captain America that gives the same list of health issues as the first Selective Service form, and also gives results of an eye and ear exam: his vision is apparently 15/20 in his right eye and 16/20 in his left eye. This, afaik, makes no sense - visual acuity measures in that format should always start with either 20 or 6, and that hasn't changed over time. If they meant 20/15 instead of 15/20, his vision is actually slightly better than normal. If they meant "slightly worse than 20/20", he might have minor blurriness, but he'd still be allowed to drive a car without glasses. For hearing, he's listed as having "ear discharge" - I have no idea what that means in this context, except an ear infection - but, notably, no hearing impairment.

I'm not going to discuss that one in any more depth since it's all duplications, but here's the form:

an Army form with vital statistics and a typewritten list of health issues

There's also an exhibit at Disney's Tomorrowland which apparently has a poster about "Skinny Steve" with another list of ailments. It has very little in common with anything from the prop canon. I'm tempted to take this one with a very large grain of salt, because not only is it not even prop canon, but it's not even a medical report - it's in context as a propaganda display, comparing Sick Steve to Captain America Steve, so even if you read it in-universe, it's likely to be exaggerated, or even deliberately falsified for security reasons, or to make a better story. Note, for example, that he's three inches shorter and fifteen pounds lighter here than on either of the medical forms. However there's still some interesting stuff on here, assuming I found the right poster (this required some creative googling and I found it on a photo aggregation site with no attribution).


A poorly-lit shot of a museum-style display giving Steve's vitals pre- and post-serum
Asthma and scoliosis we've already covered, so here's the others.

  1. Eyes: Astigmatic: Astigmatism is one of several common vision impairments. Severe astigmatism can result in functional disability, and it can get worse with age, but astigmatism is extremely common - some estimates put 30% of all humans having some amount of astigmatism - and mild astigmatism often doesn't even need correction.


  2. Fallen Arches: Fallen Arches, aka Flat Feet, is, culturally, the diagnosis most closely associated with 4F draft status. Anytime between WWI and the beginning of the Vietnam era, if you were talking about someone who was exempt from the draft due to health and you wanted to mock or minimize it, or accuse them of faking it or bribing the doctors, you just said they had Flat Feet. (This shows up in postwar European culture a lot as well.) So if you want to create the story of Steve Rogers the quintessential 4F, you have to give him flat feet. In fact, there's very little scientific evidence that flat feet/fallen arches cause any health problems or mobility difficulties to speak of - they may even cause mobility advantages in some circumstances - but up through the Korean War era, they were believed to cause problems with marching long distances, and they could get you an exemption from the draft.


  3. Heart Arrythmia: This falls in the same category as all the other heart problems that could be major or could be really minor, listed above.


  4. Partial Deafness: This one seems to be one of the mostly widely picked up on by fandom, despite the fact that the forms shown in the prop canon explicitly say no hearing issues. In period, partial deafness could refer to any level of hearing impairment, from near-total deafness to barely testable hearing loss; it does not necessarily mean 'deaf in one ear'. From what we see of young Steve in canon, it seems unlikely that he has severe hearing impairment, but he could have some loss of hearing. Frequent ear infections as a child, or chronic sinusitis and congestion, without modern treatments, could easily result in damage to the eardrums that could cause mild permanent hearing impairment. Eyesight and hearing screenings became common in American schools around the same time as scoliosis screenings, so it's entirely possible that Steve could also have been diagnosed with a minor impairment of hearing as a child as a result of a mandatory screening. Cultural perceptions around hearing impairment have changed dramatically over the course of the 20th century, partly as a result of massive increases in adaptive technology.


  5. Stomach Ulcers: Would likely just mean chronic stomach pain; I'll admit to knowing very little about the social history of ulcers

  6. Pernicious Anemia: This one is really difficult to deal with, because Pernicious Anemia is the name of a congenital, and deadly, enzyme deficiency that makes it very difficult for the body to absorb vitamin B12. However, vitamin B12 wasn't isolated until 1948, so in Steve's day all they knew was that it lead to progressive neurological symptoms and then death unless you drank massive amounts of a particular liver extract every day. Over the course of Steve's life the exact active element in liver juice was slowly narrowed down, so depending on when he started developing symptoms, he would have been eating a half-pound of raw liver a day, then drinking an equivalent amount of liver juice, then drinking or injecting a concentrated extract.

    This one's way out of the general line of "generally sickly" that covers most of the other stuff on this list. My guess is that the poor underpaid Army clerk (or Disney intern) who made the propaganda sign saw "anemia" on his SSR form and decided to punch it up a little, but it could also be a real diagnosis. If it is, I suggest having post-serum Steve refuse to eat liver in any form ever again.


That basically covers it for the things I've been able to find some sort of canon or semi-canon or hemi-demi-canon for. There's at least one wiki out there that also lists "hypermobility" and "social anxiety", but since I can't find any source for those, I'm just going to leave it that neither of those would have been used as diagnoses in Steve's pre-serum days, as far as I can tell. They may be somebody attempting to translate "trick joint" and "nervous trouble" from the forms into modern terminology, but if so, they're extrapolating far beyond the available data.

Anyway! So that's Young Steve's list of diagnoses. As you can probably tell, I am by no means an expert in any of this, and I welcome corrections and links to sources. And if you're planning on writing about any of this, please, please do your own research - and make sure you research specifically in the 1920-1940s context, not just what the terms and conditions mean today.

Here is Pre-Serum Steve's theme song to play you out. This was a major hit in 1942, you can't tell me Steve didn't listen to it on repeat and cry, and I'm also pretty sure the title of "Star-Spangled Man" was picked to reflect back on it as part of the 4F narrative.

Date: 2014-07-30 11:54 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Pre-Serum Steve Rogers, shirt and suspenders (Sad Steve)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Thanks for making it clear which notations were from which props/tie-ins:especially distinguishing the anemia vs pernicious anemia.

My father was born before the end of the war, and he was as a child considered too delicate to learn to swim. He was after high school inducted into the Army despite that (and drinking too many bottles of soda while waiting for his medical).

I do get knocked out when someone is trying to write historical Pre-Serum Steve and they use Modern Medical America during an asthma attack. More interesting have been a few (couple, one?) stories where the Serum fails and Steve can confront his issues with food, warm clothes, inhalers and not having the stress of trying to make rent and not die. (From non-supervillian reasons.)

Date: 2014-07-31 02:23 am (UTC)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
From: [personal profile] synecdochic
I will say, that first form (the first SS checklist) is the first bit of Marvel prop that even comes close to looking like period-accurate handwriting! I wonder if they got somebody's grandparent to write it. :)

Date: 2014-07-31 10:39 am (UTC)
shehasathree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shehasathree
This is an awesome post. I will try to focus on the awesomeness and not gt too distracted by my anger at ridiculous props contradictions and errors.

Date: 2014-07-31 05:12 pm (UTC)
brownbetty: (Default)
From: [personal profile] brownbetty
Awesome work hunting all this down. Have you x-posted this to tumblr anywhere? I'd like to see it get some traction there.

Date: 2014-07-31 05:23 pm (UTC)
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves (Default)
From: [personal profile] genarti
Oh, this is great! Thank you for this, and especially for all the clear sourcing.

Date: 2014-07-31 07:38 pm (UTC)
whizzy: (like a sir)
From: [personal profile] whizzy
I've seen several things bemoaning the fact that too many fanwriters only mention his asthma, ignoring his serious health conditions. If there's only one thing people take away from this post, I want it to be that when Steve was growing up, asthma alone was enough to make a child seriously disabled.


Asthma can range from mild to severe, and it bugs me that fandom insists on pegging Steve at the extreme Teddy Roosevelt end of the scale. An asthma diagnosis would not automatically make Steve disabled or put him at risk of death every time he engaged in physical activity. Just his making it through basic training is an argument against his asthma being severe, let alone his fondness for back-alley fistfights. If we bring comics into the picture, Steve is shown to have led a fairly active childhood; there's no evidence to suggest that it was different in the movies, that he would have been confined or treated as likely to fall over dead at the drop of a hat. While things like allergens and environmental factors can trigger an attack, he wouldn't necessarily be sensitive to all common triggers. Cigarette smoke for example, which I've seen as a common thing in fic, might bother him, but it might not. One type of asthma is related to physical exertion only.

You don't need anything other than the asthma to have a Steve who grew up thinking of himself as, and being treated as, very sick and what today we'd call seriously disabled. Don't compare him to modern-day people with asthma: compare him to a modern-day child with a severe heart condition.

Again, this is an extreme scenario and there is no evidence that MCU Steve's experience was anything like it.

Date: 2014-08-14 05:36 pm (UTC)
tiamatschild: Painting of a woman resting on a bridge railing - she has a laundry bag beside her (Default)
From: [personal profile] tiamatschild
I tend to read 6 on the first Selective Service checklist as being a reference to his father. Since we know from The Winter Soldier that Joe Rogers is buried in the States, and Steve never says he was killed in action, I think it's not unreasonable to think that he died later, in the US, from complications caused by exposure to gas, and several of the items on that list are also associated with exposure to several of the agents used in WWI.

Thanks for this! :)

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