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Samples from: THE PROGRESSIVE ERA'S HEALTH REFORM MOVEMENT: A HISTORICAL DICTIONARY

by
Ruth Clifford Engs


GULICK, Luther Halsey (December 4, 1865 - August 13, 1918). Gulick, a leader of the physical education and recreation movements, championed many health reforms of the Progressive era's Clean Living Movement. These included eugenics, diet and nutrition, personal hygiene, tuberculosis, and public health causes. Gulick was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of Congregational missionary parents. As a child he spent time in Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and Japan resulting in uneven schooling. Due to "heart trouble," he studied intermittently at Oberlin College between 1880 and 1886. Becoming interested in physical education and hygiene, he attended the Normal School of Physical Training (1886) at Harvard University run by Dudley Sargent,* and then became a part-time student at New York University's School of Medicine. In 1887 he married Charlotte Vetter; with whom he had four living children. Two years later he finished his medical degree. Gulick paid his way through medical school by teaching and organizing physical educational activities in several schools including the newly established YMCA* training school in Springfield, Massachusetts (1886-1900). He was also secretary of the YMCA's International Committee of Physical Training Department (1887 -1903). While at the YMCA, Gulick guided it to offer competitive sports and exercise programs as methods to prevent moral and physical degeneracy among young men. To symbolize the YMCA's "Muscular Christianity"* and "whole man" philosophy, Gulick created the triangular emblem for the organization that defined health and fitness as the integration of mind, body, and spirit. In 1894 he collaborated with James Naismith (1861-1939) in developing the game of basketball.

Gulick became principal of Pratt High School in Brooklyn, New York (1900-1903), and three years later became president of the American Physical Education Association* (1903-1906) and director of physical training in New York City public schools where he established daily physical education* and hygiene* instruction. He left this position to become director of the Department of Child Hygiene of the Russell Sage Foundation (1907-1913) where failing health caused him to resign. Gulick's love of the outdoors and concern about the lack of adequate play space for urban children prompted him to co- found the Playground Association of American (1906). By 1910 thousands of playgrounds across the country had been established with organized programs for children. He also helped found the Boy Scouts of America (1910), as well as, with his wife, the Camp Fire Girls (1910), of which he was president until his death. In addition to physical education and recreation organizations, he was a member and president (1910-1911) of the American School Hygiene Association,* a delegate to the International Congress of School Hygiene (1907), and a member of the Committee of One Hundred,* among other groups.

Gulick became a spokesperson for many health issues of the day. He was insightful enough to realize that reform efforts were part of a cycle that was on the upsurge. Increased interest in "physical well-being," national concern for public health,* sanitation,* personal hygiene, passage of pure-food laws,* and wide interest in temperance,* diet, and nutrition* were cited as examples of this surge. Gulick recommended changes be instituted while the reform "pulse" was at its peak and suggested the establishment of a National Bureau of Health,* government- sponsored health services, temperance legislation, and measures to ensure the rearing of healthy children. Gulick championed the tuberculosis movement* and recommenced detection, education, and prevention efforts in the public schools. Like many other reformers of the Progressive era, he was concerned about race degeneracy* and supported eugenic* concepts. At the National Race Betterment Conference* (1914), he suggested the formation of a "race betterment league" to collect information for "better mating" and child rearing. His promotion of a well-balanced diet for children was expressed in Food and Life (1920), published posthumously.

During World War I,* despite the fact his health was failing, Gulick championed social hygiene* and encouraged athletics and physical exercise programs for military personnel to keep them away from prostitutes* and venereal disease.* He helped direct YMCA programs in France. Gulick was a prolific writer. He wrote two books concerned with physical fitness and purity* issues, Dynamics of Manhood (1917) and Morals and Morale (1919). His most noted work was Efficient Life (1906) that embodied his philosophy of health and fitness. Contrary to many other health reformers of the period, Gulick smoked cigarettes and drank wine, and promoted moderation in their use; however, he opposed saloons* on grounds they led to immoral behavior. He was also considered independent and impulsive. Although his health was failing during the last few years of his life, he still kept active in health causes. Gulick died of an apparent heart attack at the relatively young age of 52 in South Casco, Maine, at the children's camp he had founded. REFERENCES: Dorgan, Ethel Josephine, Luther Halsey Gulick, 1865-1918 (1976); Gulick, Luther H.,The Efficient Life (1906); "Tuberculosis and the public schools," Charities and the Commons 21 (November1908),253-258; "The high tide of physical conscience," TheWorld's Work 16 (June 1908),10383 -10386; "Physical fitness in the fighting armies," American Physical Education Review 23 (June 1918),341-354; Morals and Morale (1919). ANB 9 1999, 720-722; AR 1985, 384-387; DAB Sup. 8 1932, 47-48; NatCAB 26 1937, 371; Obituary: NYT August 14, 1918.)

LINCOLN - LEE LEGION PLEDGE. This abstinence pledge for children was prevalent in the first three decades of the twentieth century. The Lincoln Legion was founded by Howard Russell* in 1903 as a moral-suasion pledge signing program. Its goal was to get school children to sign a pledge to abstain from all alcoholic beverages. At an Anti-Saloon League* meeting in 1912, the pledge crusade was renamed the Lincoln-Lee Legion to honor a son of the south. Both General Robert E. Lee and President Abraham Lincoln had advocated a temperate lifestyle free from intoxicating liquors. Pledge signing was promoted through Sunday schools and temperance meetings. Girls who signed the pledge were "Willards," named after Francis Willard.* Northern boys were "Lincolns" and southern boys, "Lees." By 1925 over five million had signed the total abstinence pledge cards. The pledge reads as follows: "Whereas, the use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage is productive of pauperism, degradation and crime; and believing it our duty to discourage that which produces more evil than good, we therefore pledge ourselves to abstain from the use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage." REFERENCES: Odegard, Peter H., Pressure Politics: The Story of the Anti-Saloon League (1928); SEAP 1 1926, 184.


MUSCULAR CHRISTIANITY. This Progressive era concept linked physical fitness with Protestant Christianity and was an aspect of the Social Gospel movement. Muscular Christianity affirmed the compatibility of robust physical life with a Christian life of morality and service. The term was coined in 1851 by British writer Thomas Hughes who developed the notion of a link between athletic involvement and moral development. By the 1880s women had become the mainstay of Protestantism and the church had allegedly become "feminized" by the Victorian "cult of domesticity." Ministers were beginning to be stereotyped as "sissy fellows," which church leaders perceived kept men away from the church. Instead men were joining fraternal lodges, such as the Masons, which offered ritual celebration of male virtues, and the affirmation of a male-focused spirituality. Churches saw themselves competing with lodges for men's alliance and respect. Out of this concern came church related brotherhoods, such as the Men and Religion Forward Movement (1911-1912), a nationwide evangelical campaign devoted to Christian idealism and character building initiated by the YMCA .* This and other YMCA programs personified the ideals of muscular Christianity and manliness. In addition, men were becoming increasingly engaged in sedentary office positions which did not offer the same opportunity for exercise as farm or factory work. Alarmed by the prospect of a weakening of the middle-class Anglo-Americans* in contrast to more muscular immigrant* laborers, many reformers hurried to endorse artificial exercise through physical culture* and physical education.* Theodore Roosevelt* became a model of the progressive mood for action and change and coined the term for this more vigorous lifestyle as "the strenuous life."* REFERENCES: Putney, Clifford, "Character building in the YMCA, 1880 - 1930," Mid-America, An Historical Review 73 (January 1991), 49 - 70; "Men and religion: Aspects of the church brotherhood movement, 1880 - 1920," Anglican and Episcopal History 63 (December 1994), 451- 467; Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America , 1880 -1920 (2001).


SEX EDUCATION (SEX HYGIENE). Sex education was a component of the purity, social hygiene, and later, the birth-control movements. During the 1880s purity alliances had made sex hygiene a major project aimed at physicians, teachers, ministers, and other professionals. In the 1880s Alpha, the journal of the Moral Education Society directed its message toward the social elite, but not the general public, concerning sex hygiene. During the mid-1890s journal articles reflected the concerns of some physicians regarding adequate sex education inasmuch as a " young woman who marries in infantile ignorance of all that pertains to her future as a wife and mother, is no longer lauded as a sweet innocent' by the members of her own sex." Parents were advised not to teach children and youth "falsehoods," but instead to instruct them in the simplest physiological facts and advised to answer questions truthfully. In the first decade of the twentieth-century, Prince Morrow,* a New York physician, and his Society for Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis (which evolved into the American Federation for Sex Hygiene*) began to enlist social workers to educate working-class men and women about venereal diseases,* which were considered a crucial aspect of instruction for social hygiene.* During this decade women physicians and women's clubs crusaded for sex education in the schools to include sexuality in general, not just coverage of venereal diseases. Sex education was also combined with eugenics* and the desirability of choosing a fit marriage partner. However, bitter school board clashes arose regarding teaching sex education in the public schools. Groups opposing sex education included Christian Science.* By 1912 "sex hygiene [was] taught in 138 schools and colleges throughout the country" and was promoted as the sum product of the three great forces in society, "the school, the home, and the church." Sex education was also supported by birth-control* pioneers such as Robert Dickinson* and Hannah Mayer Stone* in the 1920s. REFERENCES: "Pacific Coast social hygiene conference," Survey (29 August 1914), 554; Daggett, Mabel Poitter, "Women building a better race," World Work 25 (December 1912), 228 - 234; Scammon, Laura, "Knowledge the preserver of purity," Arena 8 (November 1893), 702-709;Pivar, David J., Purity Crusade: Sexual Morality and Social Control, 1868 - 1900 (1973); Purity and Hygiene: Women, prostitution and the "American Plan," 1900-1930 (2002).


*Denotes cross references in the book.

NOTE: These samples taken from THE PROGRESSIVE ERA'S HEALTH REFORM MOVEMENT: A HISTORICAL DICTIONARY, Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003. Duplication in any form is not permitted other than for personal educatioal use. Copyright (c) 2003 by the publisher, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT and Ruth Clifford Engs. Please contact author before quoting any material as these samples are taking from the draft and not the final publication.