Drink Milk Campaign Across America–1920s

Hello, again History Lovers,

At the turn of the twentieth century, the government, dairy associations, and health organizations began promoting the nutritional benefits of drinking milk daily, especially among children. The Drink Milk campaign also promoted eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and getting outside. Today’s post is an article published in May 1922 that reports on the nationwide success of the Drink Milk campaigns of 1920 and 21.


Lithograph Poster 1920s

Milk Makes A Difference

From Maine to California, from Canada to the Gulf, milk campaigns have been the order of the day. Practically every woman’s organization in the country has taken a part in them somewhere and there is probably not a single state that has not had a least one campaign. As a result of these milk campaigns in our large cities, towns, villages, and the most isolated rural communities we find the children playing the popular health games and drinking their daily allotment of milk.

The need for such campaigns is not confined to any one class. Not only from the poorest homes, where economic pressure is so great that the family cannot afford the needed milk but also from the homes of great wealth, where the lack is due to ignorance of a child’s needs, come the lads and lassies whose frail bodies and pale cheeks betray a lack of proper food. And the only magic that can round out the hollows in the little bodies and can bring the roses to their cheeks is the magic wielded by the milk fairies.

The gospel of more milk has been preached with every possible device to appeal to childish imaginations, for it has been the aim to make the children want to drink milk—not to force them to do it because “it is good for them.”

Cho Cho The Health Clown

Newspaper Clipping Announcing the Coming of Cho Cho the Health Clown 1921

One of the successful milk missionaries has been Cho Cho, the Health Clown sent by the Child Health Organization. After Cho Cho had visited North Dakota during a health campaign there, one small boy was asked to name the three greatest Americans. Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Cho Cho.” Cho Cho has taught thousands of boys and girls who until they made his acquaintance, scorned milk and vegetables, to eat these blood-building foods. So popular has he become, that many communities which could not secure him, have trained health clowns of their own.

Cho Cho promoted several health rules:

  1. A full bath more often than once a week.
  2. Brushing the teeth at least once every day.
  3. Sleeping long hours with windows open.
  4. Drinking as much milk as possible, but with no tea or coffee.
  5. Eating some vegetables or fruit every day.
  6. Drinking at least four glasses of water every day.
  7. Playing outdoors every day.
  8. A bowel movement every morning.

If the small lad quoted above could have been one of the 3,000 school children in Utica, New York, or one of the 13,000 in Syracuse, New York, this past year, he would have been hard put to it to answer his question. No American lad could take Washington or Lincoln from such a list but what could he do for the third place when his affections were divided between Cho Cho, the Health Clown, and Happy, the Jolly Jester!

Memories of Cho Cho’s visit last year made the kiddies in these two cities look happily forward to milk week in 1921. They were not disappointed. They did not know exactly what would happen but at some time during the week, each roomful of children was thrilled to trembling, happy silence when a huge, shaggy trunk was carried on the platform in their rooms and then out of it tumbled Happy, greeting them with the jolliest grin and proceeding to tumble into their hearts. Happy is a ventriloquist, so he was able to make Charlie Carrot and Johnnie Spinach talk bewitchingly to the children and carry on a most lifelike conversation with one Harry a life-size rag doll. One small boy, trembling with excitement, asked Happy where he lived. He gravely replied, “42 Bath Tub Street.” Most of the children giggled with delight but one wee laddie gravely wrote the address down, with the evident desire to carry on such a delightful friendship by correspondence or even by a personal interview.

The Milky Way is the Best Way

This work has been just as popular and successful in the Pacific States as in those bordering the Atlantic. In Thurston County, Washington, over forty local organizations joined forces to make the milk campaign a success. The opening guns were fired—or the first milk bottle opened—on a Sunday evening when the regular service in the United Churches was turned over to a nutrition specialist from the State College, who preached an interesting health sermon and then showed the film of the Milk Fairy play.

Any person in Thurston County who did not know that a milk campaign was going on, must have been blind and deaf. Milk signs and milk slogans assailed eyes and ears at every turn. Fifteen store windows carried displays emphasizing the importance of milk; at intersections were huge milk bottles pointing out that the “milk way” was the “best way”; streetcar banners, milk bottle “stickers” for automobile windshields, and placards in restaurants all carried their milk message. During the week over 10,000 people listened to talks stressing the importance of milk in building healthy bodies.

Milk Fairy Pageant

In Iowa, during the year from July 1, 1920, to June 30, 1921, milk campaigns were put on in 32 counties. As a result of this work, the milk consumption in that State increased by approximately 1,112,664 quarts. These campaigns included the presentation of the Milk Fairy Pageant. One little girl in Sibley Co. went home and said, “Well, I don’t like milk but I am going to drink it anyway because I couldn’t be in the pageant—I’m too skinny!”

Not For Children Only–Milk Bar

At the great Timonium Fair held in Baltimore, Maryland, the “milk bar” was one of the most popular features of the occasion. Someone said in describing the drinks sold there, “they are the only drinks now sold across the bar that have the right kind of a ‘kick’ in them!” While their names might well have aroused the suspicion of any agent charged with the enforcement of the Volstead Act, their contents complied with the strictest requirements of both health and prohibition. Some of the drinks served were:

  • Guernsey Highball: ¾ cup milk, 2 Tablespoons vanilla syrup.
  • Jersey Fizz: ¾ cup milk, 2 Tablespoons pineapple syrup.
  • Timonium Racer: ¾ cup milk, 2 Tablespoons mint syrup.
  • Buttermilk Highball: ¾ cup milk 2 Tablespoons sugar, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice.

Milk Campaign in Cherry Hill, Michigan

One milk dealer in Wayne County, Michigan reports that in place of the one to two ten-gallon cans that he sold each day before the campaign held in the Cherry Hill community, he is now selling eight to ten cans and, in addition, is daily delivery ten or more pints of milk at the school so that some of the children can get the extra allotment of milk that they need to bring them up to normal.

Dry Cows Are The Problem

Shortly after the campaign in Topeka, Kansas, Miss Jessie Hoover, in charge of milk utilization work with the Dairy Division, U.S. Department of Agriculture, visited a rural school in the vicinity. In this school, all of the children except one family of three had gained weight through the increased use of milk. When the three were asked if they drank milk they said “No, Lady! Our cows are dry but Mother says just as soon as they come in we can drink milk too.” She was convinced!

It is an interesting fact that in not a single case, have the distributors of milk increased the price of their product as a result of the increased demand which invariably follows one of these campaigns.

Free Milk

In Warren, Ohio, the people who were to run the “milk bar” exhibit found it difficult to secure someone who would furnish the milk for their drinks. Finally, they approached a milk producer who agreed to furnish them with the milk without charge, if they in turn would agree to take over his skimmed milk and distribute it free to the children, giving each child all that he wanted so long as the supply lasted. They advertised that this free distribution would take place every afternoon from three to four o’clock. Half an hour early the line began to form. In four days, the daily amount given out increased from ten gallons to forty!

One newsboy well carried out the description of a small boy as “an appetite with a skin stretched around it” for he consumed ten glasses at the first sitting! Several small negroes brought quart bottles which they hid behind the milk booth. They took their places in line, received their individual glasses of milk, went around the booth, emptied the milk into the bottles, and started in all over again. By “repeating” a sufficient number of times they were able to fill their bottles as well as themselves.

Children’s Dairy Parade with Costumes

In Wheeling, West Virginia, the people in charge of the campaign took advantage of the universal love of a circus by staging a parade. The local box factory furnished large paper forms representing butter, milk bottles, and so forth. The children, wearing these forms, marched in squads of sixteen so arranged that they formed legends relating to the use of milk.

Clipping from Popular Science Monthly February 1920

During this same campaign, a good deal of excitement was caused one morning by two painters who appeared before a great billboard in the heart of the city. One was wearing a huge pasteboard milk bottle bigger than himself; the other was a painted pasteboard baby costume. A crowd began to gather and soon reached such proportions that traffic was blocked and the traffic police had to be called out—lively milk-drinking advertising!

Afternoon Milk and Cookie Break

The importance of milk as food was tested out by a large yeast company. They observed that about the middle of the afternoon, their employees, numbering several hundred, showed weariness and an inability to keep the work going efficiently. To remedy this, at 3:30 every afternoon they are given a ten-minute period for relaxation and at the same time, each employee is served a glass of milk and a cookie. After a nine-month trial, the company reports: “We believe that the resulting increased health and efficiency among our employees is as high as 50%.”

Survey Says–Drink Milk

In a certain county of a state in the middle west, a survey of health conditions was made. In the rural section, the survey included 125 children. All of the families, except two kept cows, and yet only 11% of the children were drinking as much as one cup of milk each day. In a survey of a town in the same county, 136 children were included and it was found that 63% of them were drinking at least one cup of milk a day. These figures would seem to indicate that at all too many farms (in that vicinity at least) too large a part of the milk produced is sold.

Herbert Hoover, who fed 10,000,000 people (including 1,200,000 children) for four years (as director of the U.S. Food Administration), has said. “[Humans] cannot survive without the use of dairy products.” In many families, there is plenty of milk available but the children do not drink it “because they do not like it.” In practically every case this is a matter of habit. In such cases, the required amount of milk can be put into their diet in other forms such as milk soups, custards, whips, and so forth. Thousands of children who did not “like” milk at home have found that they do like it as soon as it is introduced into the school and public opinion among their playmates makes it “the thing” to drink a given amount daily.–Elizabeth Deane March


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, February 1922, Page 710; Webb Publishing, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

When The Baby Comes 1921

Hello, again History Lovers,

In the early 1900s, over half of U.S. births took place at home with the assistance of a midwife. Some home births were attended by a doctor and/or nurse, and in some situations only the assistance of the women of the family was available. A mere ten percent of births took place in a hospital.

In an effort to better protect the health of both mother and infant, the U.S. Federal Children’s Bureau in Washington D.C. published guidelines for preparing a sanitary home environment for the birthing process. To further disperse the information The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women published the information in the May 1921 issue. Today’s post is a reprint of that article.

Preparations For A Home Birth

The importance of arranging for the best medical and nursing care available cannot be overemphasized. It is advisable to engage the doctor as early in pregnancy as possible so that he may have the case under observation and make the routine examinations of the urine and may deal at once with any negative symptoms that may arise.

It is becoming more and more common for women to go to a hospital to be confined. The hospital has many advantages over the private house at such a time, for it is cheaper, safer, and far more convenient.

If the confinement is to take place at home, however arrangements should be made for it well in advance in order to avoid haste and confusion at the last minute. It will be found that to engage a competent nurse for at least two weeks and preferably for four, is an economy in the long run.

Cooke Maternity Outfit Label circa 1920s

It is necessary to have plenty of sterile dressings ready for the doctor to use, as they are an essential precaution against the danger of infection. They should be prepared two or three weeks before the expected date of confinement. The following articles are likely to be needed:

  • Two to four pounds of absorbent cotton.
  • One large package of sterile gauze (25 yards).
  • Four rolls of cotton batting.
  • Two yards of stout muslin for abdominal binders.
  • Twelve old towels or diapers.
  • Two old sheets.
  • Two yards of bobbin, or very narrow tape, for tying the cord.
Cook’s Maternity Kit Produced by Johnson and Johnson 1920s

From these supplies, the necessary pads, bandages, and dressings are made and all are then sterilized in accordance with these exact directions which follow.

Sanitary pads. These are pads ten inches long and four inches wide which are used to absorb the discharges after the mother has been delivered. As absorbent cotton is comparatively expensive, it will be found more economical to make the greater part of each pad of cotton batting, facing one side with a layer of the absorbent kind. Cut the sterile gauze into pieces of the right size to fold around the cotton and expend two or three inches beyond it at each end. These pads should be about an inch thick, and at least five dozen will be needed. They are pinned front and back to the abdominal binder, which is simply a strip of cotton cloth twelve inches wide and long enough to be fastened comfortably around the abdomen.

Delivery pads. These pads should be a yard square and four inches thick. Cotton batting may form the principal part of the thickness but the top layer of absorbent cotton should be at least one inch thick. Make two of these pads. Cotton waste, if boiled in washing soda and dried thoroughly in the sun, makes a cheap and effective filling in place of batting but as the texture is very loose a thick layer must be used. For later use, they should be covered with old sheets which have been sterilized.

Gauze sponges. Two dozen of these will be needed. They are made by cutting sterile gauze into 18-inch lengths, the width of the gauze. Fold one raw edge down about three inches; double the strip by putting the selvage edges together, having the raw edges of the fold on the outside. Fold this into thirds both ways and turn the sponge inside out, so as to have all the raw edges inside.

Cotton pledgets. These are wads of absorbent cotton, the size of an egg, having the ends of the cotton twisted into the roll. Make several dozen and put them into a small pillowcase or cheesecloth bag.

Gauze squares. Cut fifty 4-inch squares of the gauze. These will be used to wash the baby’s eyes and for other purposes.

Bobbin. Cut ordinary cotton bobbin into six 9-inch lengths for tying the cord.

When these supplies are all made, they should be put into cheesecloth bags, for ease in handling, then sterilized.

How to sterilize. Sterilizing is the process of subjecting anything to the action of heat for a sufficient length of time to free it from all the disease germs that may be present. It is possible to sterilize the dressing in the oven but as dry heat is less effective than moist heat and there is always a danger of scorching, it is better to use steam. The smaller things may be sterilized in a large kettle or saucepan and the larger ones in the wash boiler. For the first, invert a bowl several inches high in the bottom of a perfectly clean saucepan, lay a plate on the bowl, and on the plate place the dressings which have first been put into a cheesecloth bag to facilitate handling. Put enough water to cover the bowl, and then tightly cover the kettle or saucepan. The articles must remain for one hour after the water begins to boil. They are then taken out, dried, done up in sterilized cotton cloth, and put away. They must not be removed from the bags and handled as little as possible.

A convenient method of sterilizing in the boiler is as follows: Take a strip of stout muslin that is somewhat longer than the boiler and fasten it securely to the handles of the boiler by means of a stout drawstring run through each end and, for additional security, down each side as well; the strip should hang down to about one-third the depth of the boiler. This makes a sort of hammock in which the dressings are placed. The boiler is filled about one-quarter full of water and covered tightly, and the articles are left to steam for an hour after the water begins to boil. When they are removed, they should be dried thoroughly in the sun by pinning the bags to the clothesline. If this is not possible, they can be dried in the oven, with care being taken not to burn them. When the dressings are dried, they are immediately wrapped (still left in the cheesecloth bags) in a sterilized cotton cloth or a sheet, and put away in a closed drawer and not touched or handled in any way until they are taken out for the doctor’s use.

A single metal bed and a comfortable mattress are the best. The ordinary double bed is very inconvenient as it is too wide and too low. If a low bed must be used, it may easily be elevated by putting blocks, 6 or 8 inches high, under the four legs, first removing the casters so that there will be no danger of the bed slipping off. If the mattress sags in the middle a board or two may be placed across the bed to support it. The bed should be placed in such a position that both the doctor and the nurse can get at it at once and so that a good light falls upon it both in the daytime and at night.

In making the bed for the delivery, the under sheet which is put on over the mattress pad should be folded under at the four corners and pinned securely to the mattress with safety pins. A piece of rubber sheeting or oilcloth, which has first been wiped on both sides with a cloth wet in some antiseptic solution, should then be placed across the middle of the bed, and over this, a sheet folded once lengthwise. In taking care of the patient, it will be found far easier to change this drawsheet than to change the under-sheet that covers the whole mattress. If desired, a pad made of several thicknesses of newspaper done up in an old sheet that has been sterilized may be used instead of the oilcloth.

The things to be kept in mind in connection with all preparations for confinement are the necessity for the best medical and nursing care available and the prime importance of absolute cleanliness. Everything possible should be done to prevent any infection. What is commonly called childbed fever is a wholly preventable disease. Its causes and the measures necessary to prevent it are well known, and skilled medical and nursing care reduce to a minimum the possibility of its occurrence.


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, May 1921, Page 452; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Are Your Children Healthy? Diphtheria

Hello, again History Lovers,

Today’s article discusses the seriousness of Diphtheria in children in the early 1920s. Written by Dr. Walter Ramsey M.D., a leading doctor of his time, he expresses the urgency in which the diphtheria antitoxin must be administered to a child who is suspected of having contracted the disease. With a forty percent mortality rate without the antitoxin, Diphtheria was a dreaded childhood illness. Dr. Ramsey’s article is prefaced by a clipping from a Charlotte, North Carolina newspaper from 1922 illustrating the tragedy of diphtheria. The title of the article links to the clipping.


Board of Health 1923 Diphtheria Warning Poster

Charlotte News, Births to Deaths and Everything Else, March 19, 1922

After an illness of three days with diphtheria, Sarah Hope, 6-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Cooper of Lawyers Road, died at the home of her parents Saturday afternoon. The body will be accompanied to Rockingham Sunday and interment will take place there. She is survived by her parents, two brothers, and one sister.

What You Should Know About Warding Off Diphtheria 1923

Dr. Walter R. Ramsey, M.D.

Twenty-five years ago, diphtheria was the most dangerous and the most dreaded of all the diseases which attacked children. There was scarcely a family to be found anywhere which had not lost some of its members from diphtheria.

In going through the files of the City and County Hospital of St. Paul, Minnesota for a period of ten years between 1887 and 1897, the death rate was between thirty-five and forty percent. That is, of every hundred cases which entered the hospital with diphtheria, forty of them died. These figures correspond to those of the large hospitals throughout this country and Europe.

In 1897, Behring and Roux, two European scientists, published their wonderful discovery of diphtheria antitoxin.

During the following ten years by giving antitoxin to diphtheria cases, the death rate had fallen to six per hundred. This rate has been maintained with slight variations up to the present time. In the rural districts of the United States, diphtheria still exacts a large toll in deaths, all of which are preventable.

Dr. Edwin H. Place of the Boston City Hospital has just brought out the fact very clearly that it is not the size of the dose of the antitoxin but the earliness with which it is given that counts.

If given in the first twenty-four hours the mortality is almost nothing but if delayed until the second or third day the death rate jumps up to seven or even ten percent.

There is a widespread idea among people in general, that the giving of antitoxin is frequently followed by serious results such as paralysis. Observing the use of antitoxin in large municipal hospitals over a period of twenty-five years, I have never seen a single death that could be attributed to the antitoxin but I have seen the mortality reduced in the same institutions from forty per hundred to less than six. The temporary paralysis which rather frequently follows or complicates diphtheria is not due to the antitoxin but to the toxin or poison of the disease which did its damage before the antitoxin was given.

These complications are very much less frequent than they formerly were and if the antitoxin were given in the first twenty-four hours there would be practically no complications. The worst thing I have seen following the antitoxin was a severe case of hives and this is rather common but not dangerous.

It is nothing short of criminal, in the light of our present knowledge, for a parent or guardian to refuse or neglect to have a child suffering from diphtheria given antitoxin and given early.

Antitoxin should be available, free of cost, in every hamlet in this nation.

If all cases of membranous sore throat or even (supposedly) “plain” sore throat, were at once assumed by the mother to be diphtheria and a physician called, there would be very few deaths from diphtheria. Antitoxin should be given even in mild cases.

Diphtheria patients should be kept in the recumbent (lying down) position for several weeks, as the most frequent cause of death is heart paralysis. This danger does not end when the membrane has disappeared from the throat but is even greater during the second and third weeks. Sitting up in bed suddenly is not infrequently followed by sudden death when the heart is weak even when the child is to all outward appearances well.

In cases of membranous croup (laryngeal diphtheria) the membrane forms in the larynx which is the upper end of the windpipe blocking the passage of air.

Every case of croup that does not respond to the ordinary home remedies such as a cold compress to the front of the throat, a dose of ipecac, or the steam kettle, should be assumed to be diphtheria, the physician called at once and the child given antitoxin.

If the obstruction to breathing increases, the child should be removed to a hospital, as it may be necessary to introduce a tube into his larynx in order to save his life.

In all epidemics of diphtheria or other contagious diseases, the source of the milk supply should be carefully investigated, as milk is a common carrier of infection.

In the case of any epidemics, all milk should be pasteurized or brought to the boiling point for three minutes.


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, February 1923 Page 300; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Are Your Children Healthy? Scarlet Fever

Hello, again History Lovers!

In 1923 The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women began a series regarding the healthcare of rural babies and children written by Dr. Walter R. Ramsey a leading pediatrician of his time. The Editors encouraged mothers to read the articles, cut them out and paste them in a scrapbook, and to tell their neighbors about the information. Keep in mind this was well before the availability of penicillin when childhood illnesses could be debilitating or fatal. Our two-year stint with Covid-19 has been an immersive experience in the anxiousness and vulnerability that mothers of yesteryear had to have felt during outbreaks of serious childhood illnesses.

Today I’m feeling particularly grateful for the availability of antibiotics while raising my children.

Scarlet Fever–Scarlatina

Regard Every Case, However Mild, As Most Serious

“Scarlet Fever is perhaps the most treacherous of all the diseased which affect children. You never know just what it is going to do next. I may be so severe from the onset as to end fatally within a few days, or it may be so mild that it is almost impossible to say that it is scarlet fever at all. Even in the mild cases of so-called Scarlatina, serious complications may arise.

It is, therefore, imperative that all cases of scarlet fever of whatever degree of severity be regarded as serious.

The time from exposure until the child comes down with the disease, varies from two days to a week. The onset is usually sudden with vomiting, sore throat, and rapidly rising fever. The throat is inflamed and frequently covered with a grayish-white membrane, not unlike that found in diphtheria.

The two diseases may be present at the same time, and it is only by a culture from the throat and a microscopic examination that the proper diagnosis can be made.

After twenty-four or forty-eight hours the tongue usually presents the strawberry appearance. The rash begins usually on the neck and chest and rapidly spreads over the body; is not blotchy like measles but rather of a mustard plaster character and in typical cases is scarlet in color.

The glands in the neck frequently become swollen and very tender and later may form an abscess and have to be opened by the physician.

Abscess of the middle ear is common and requires skilled attention, as frequently the drum must be opened to evacuate the pus. By early opening through the canal, mastoid involvement i.e., infection of bone cells behind the ear, may be prevented.

Another frequent and serious complication is inflammation of the kidneys. This often occurs in mild cases, even after they are thought to be well and are permitted to run about and have the usual things to eat. In these cases, it will be noticed that the face is puffy, especially under the eyes, and the ankles and feet are swollen, so that the ridges of the stockings and shoes can be readily seen in the skin. The urine is scant in quantity and often highly colored.

Another serious complication of scarlet fever is heart involvement. It may produce serious symptoms from the beginning or be found later in life. Many of the boys rejected from the army in the late war, were suffering from some heart affection, many instances of which have their origin in scarlet fever during childhood.

Inflammation of the joints is also common in scarlet fever and may result in serious and permanent disability.

From what I have already said it will be apparent that scarlet fever is a disease that should be under the supervision of a skilled physician from the very onset.

All cases of scarlet fever should be kept in bed for a much longer period than is usually thought necessary.

The disease is usually contracted from some other person who has it. The infection comes from the discharges from the throat or nose and not from the scalings, as is generally supposed.

A very common carrier is the milk that may readily be infected from someone, such as a milker who has the disease in a mild form, but who does not know it. One of the worst local epidemics I have ever seen of scarlet fever and malignant sore throat resulted from the infection of the milk supply by the milker.

If all milk for children were properly pasteurized or boiled for two minutes, many of them would miss such diseases as scarlet fever, diphtheria, typhoid, and tuberculosis from which many of them now suffer.”


Are Your Children Healthy?

Hello History Lovers!

Inhaling droplets spread by coughing, sneezing, speaking, singing, or close face-to-face contact is the leading mode of respiratory disease transmission. No, I’m not just speaking about Covid-19. I’m talking about centuries-old contagious diseases that spread into the early twentieth century — tuberculosis, smallpox, diphtheria, and others. The Spanish Influenza, however, came seemingly out of nowhere but followed similar methods in its spread. These diseases were also spread by touching objects, including clothing, blankets, or skin sores, contaminated by infected droplets. Many cities during the 1918 flu pandemic closed theaters and schools, outlawed spitting in public, even outdoors, and promoted mask-wearing in an effort to curb the spread of influenza. A high mortality rate was another common denominator of these diseases within specific segments of the population.

During WW I America lost more servicemen to the Spanish Influenza than in combat due to the close quarters of military personnel, especially on ships, and the fact that there was no effective medical intervention available. In the early 1920s, the science of vaccinations was in its infancy, and even though an antitoxin had been developed for Diphtheria, the disease was still a leading cause of death in children at that time. Vaccinations for tuberculosis and smallpox were not widely accepted or promoted until after WW II.

Scarlet Fever, a highly contagious strain of the strep bacteria, was another potentially deadly disease for infants and young children sometimes leading to Rheumatic Fever. Those who survived were often left with serious health complications such as permanent hearing loss, heart, joint, or brain damage. Unfortunately, antibiotics that could arrest the disease were still two decades away. Couple this with concerns about childbirth and maternal health, proper hygiene and sanitation, the need for accessible health care in rural areas, and a safer food supply within cities, it becomes apparent that early-twentieth-century women needed information. Information regarding what she could do to help mitigate these issues within her family and community. Newspapers and periodicals such as THE FARMER’S WIFE – A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN were important sources available for the dispersal of up-to-date information to rural women. Below are other examples of the types of information rural women could access:      



“In The Health Of Our Children Lies The Future Of Our Nation”

By Walter R. Ramsey M.D., Associate Professor, Diseases of Children, University of Minnesota

What the States Are Doing — 1926

THE Massachusetts Department of Health is entering the second year of a ten-year campaign dealing with the prevention of tuberculosis. The Massachusetts authorities are stressing the importance of food and nutrition as a means of prevention. A number of splendid pamphlets have been issued in this connection. These pamphlets are free to the residents of the state. Write to the State Department of Health, Capitol Building, Boston, Massachusetts.

THE Maryland State Department of Health is launching a campaign to have all school children protected against smallpox, scarlet fever, and diphtheria. This campaign involves a general program of education as to the nature of these diseases and means of prevention. Making the child fit to fight these serious children’s diseases by inspection and treatment before the beginning of the school year is becoming a state policy that might well be carried out in other sections of the country.

THE Connecticut State Department of Health is attempting to meet the needs for child hygiene work in opening child health centers in various parts of the state. At these health centers, young children can receive free examinations and inspections by their local or state departments. For particulars address Dr. A.E. Ingraham, 8 Washington St., Hartford, Connecticut.

THE West Virginia Department of Health has conducted a Mothercraft correspondence course since 1922. This course includes instruction as to prenatal care and touches also upon practically all of the problems encountered from babyhood up. Many mothers have availed themselves of the opportunity for instruction and they pronounce the course very helpful. Applicants should address the State Department of Health, Charleston, Massachusetts.

THE Massachusetts State Department of Health is conducting an extension course in Mothercraft. This course is in the form of fifteen complete lessons. The course is sold for four dollars. These lessons have been very carefully prepared and will be found most instructive and helpful. For particulars address the State Department of Health, Capitol Building, Boston, Massachusetts.

THE Pennsylvania Department of Health has recently issued a baby book that is not only attractive but helpful. This book covers not only matters dealing with the feeding and clothing of the child for health but also pays attention to the matter of child training and discipline. Pennsylvania mothers can secure this book by addressing the State Department of Health, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

THE Maryland Department of Health is watching over the welfare of the public by exercising very close supervision over the canneries of the state. This supervision covers a careful study of conditions under which canned products are processed and packed, thus insuring healthful products. Before being placed on the market such canned products must have the approval of the state authorities. FWM

The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine For Farm Women, October 1926, Page 487; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.