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Modern Health Crusaders

Founder: Charles M DeForest

Sponsor: National  Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis (later the National Tuberculosis Association and now the American Lung Association)

Started around 1915

I think the title of the follow book sums up this program best "The Modern Health Crusade - A National Program of Health Instruction in Schools" (1922). Begun around 1915 as a educational health program by the National  Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis (later the National Tuberculosis Association and now the American Lung Association) promoting basic health care to school-age children, by 1917 it had gained national attention.

Charles M. DeForest is credited with designing and updating the program in his work as Crusader Director of the National Tuberculosis Association.

The following is a general look at the program. Please note that specific years may have had different rules.

In 1916 Modern Health Crusader Leagues were forming mostly in big cities. Earning ranks was simply a matter of promising to try and live healthier and of selling Red Cross Seals (Later called Christmas Seals.) 10 seals equaled an enrollment certificate, 25-50 seals was a Squire, 100-200 seals was a knight (earning a silver pin) and 500 seals earned Knight Banneret (a gold pin.) This was later dropped as a requirement.



One of several Modern Health Crusader pins


The program was meant for children in grades 3, 4, 5 and 6th, but provisions were made for older and younger children. The program was meant to last at least 24 weeks, preferably 30 weeks but for rural children who had shorter school years a 12 week program was allowed.


The early program spanned the school year, but by 1922 the program would run for 1 year and all membership in the Modern Health Crusaders ended on December 31st. It would be run by the teacher, school nurse or both.

The Modern Health Crusade was a system of training in good health habits. Each grade level would had a set of "Crusade Chores" of 11 basic daily health care issues; washed hands before eating, getting enough sleep, brushing teeth, sleeping with a window open, etc. Daily records were kept at home and would be signed by a parent and turned in to the teacher. By 1919 notices were issued that the requirements would have "elastic" in them, meaning the chores could be adapted as needed.

Examples of Chores

Pre-1920 Modern Health Crusader Pins


1920 Modern Health Crusader Pins


The last know emblem used in the Modern Health Crusaders program was a double barred red cross pin in 1925. As personal hygiene, public sanitation standards and medical knowledge of tuberculosis improved interest in the Modern Health Crusaders waned. By the early 1930's it was only occasionally mentioned in the newspapers.

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