Should Girls All Dress Alike?

Should Girls All Dress Alike?

The question: Should Students Have to Wear School Uniforms? is alive and well in America today.  The adoption of uniforms by public schools is on the rise in many parts of the United States.

Schools with a student body consisting of 50% or more non-white kids are four times more likely to require uniform dress than schools with a minority base of 20-49% and twenty-four times more likely than a school with a white student population of 81-95%.

By 2008, 22 states had laws in place allowing local schools to decide on the issue of uniforms for students.

Early in 1913 this question was being debated in the city of Seattle, Washington – but only for girls.

Dress School Girls All Alike?

Shall Seattle put its high school girls a uniform dress?

Miss Ruth Shank thinks her simple dress should be adopted by all high school girls.

Miss Ruth Shank thinks her simple dress should be adopted by all high school girls.

A retiring the school board recently proposed it. The Federated women’s club has taken the matter up in discussion. Teachers in the schools favor the idea. Mothers have varying opinions.

In our grandmothers day it was not actually understood that the matter of dress might have a good deal of effect on the work of a high school girl or that it in any way affected her morals. Neither was understood that adenoids, removable by a simple and almost painless operation, made a dunce of a really smart child, or that scientific ventilation facilitated the work of students.

Ruth Shank, a pupil at Lincoln high school, is a disciple of simplicity in dress.

“I believe,” she said, “high school girls are trying to be more simple in their dress. They don’t wear loud or flashy clothes any more. But I think they should be even more simple. A uniform dress might be just the thing.”

An investigation in the New York schools have revealed the fact that many pupils are retarded to their studies because of petty jealousies aroused in matters of dress. Boys too, they say, pay too much attention to gaily the dressed girls.

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Have you met Uncle Sam, MD?

Have you met Uncle Sam, MD?

In the early 1920’s the United States Public Health Service section on Public Health Education supplied a daily health column, “Uncle Sam, M. D.,” for publication in newspapers throughout the country.

Combined with a system of questions and answers; the column supplied news on health matters two or three times a week to 10,000 newspapers, periodicals, and organizations. It also supplied health articles to the Foreign Information Bureau and produced motion-picture films to build a stereopticon loan library.

It was mostly newspapers in the west that carried the column.  The easiest to find are The Bismark Tribune and The Ogden Standard-Examiner.

One of the longest installments is one of my favorites.  It appeared in April 1920.

Public health

If you want better health, pay the price. Money spent in protecting the health and the likes the people is the best of all investments. Don’t be too eager to pass more health laws; provide sufficient means enforce those already on the statute books.

It is a well-known axiom that public health is, within certain limits, a purchasable commodity, and that each community practically fixes by its sanitary policy its sickness and disease rates from such preventable diseases as typhoid fever, malaria, tuberculosis, smallpox, etc. The best indication of the adequate or inadequacy with which a community is handling his health problems is shown in the ability of the existing health organization to lessen the prevalence of sickness.

In the interests of economy and efficiency, for instance, all sanitary work, be it child hygiene, industrial sanitation, school hygiene, milk control, etc, should be centralized and coordinated under properly equipped departments of health. Local health administration must be strengthened by the employment of health officers giving their entire time to their duty and fully responsible to the state department of health. The public health service holds that at least 2% of the public revenue should be spent for sanitary work, since for no other expenditures is so much profit ultimately derived.

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The Art of War Gardening

The Art of War Gardening

War Gardens or Victory Gardens were planted at private residences and public parks during both world wars. They were promoted as a way to reduce pressure on the public food supply and also as “morale boosters.” Gardeners could feel their contribution of labor helped the war effort in addition to rewarding them with the produce they grew. They were adopted in Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand in addition to here in the United States.

Demonstration Garden, Bryant Park, NYC

Demonstration Garden, Bryant Park, NYC

Charles Lathrop Pack organized the US National War Garden Commission in March 1917. Pack, a third-generation timberman, was one of the five wealthiest men in America prior to World War I. He came up with the idea to increase the food supply without increasing the “use of land already cultivated, of labor already engaged in agricultural work, of time devoted to other necessary occupations, and of transportation facilities which were already inadequate to the demands made upon them.”

The commission publicized the gardens with pamphlets, printed material for newspaper distribution, and colorful posters. The Commission claimed that the majority of the 30,000,000 WWI soldiers had been farmers before they went to war. The reduction in farm labor here and in Europe along with farmland devastated by warfare had many people worried about food supplies.

In addition to home gardens, the Commission also helped with the United States Bureau of Education’s mobilization of school children in the food production effort. Through the United States School Garden Army program, millions of children were taught the value of gardening as a patriotic effort during war-time. They learned the importance of food production through practical work in school based gardens.

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The Peak and Decline of Spelling Reform

The Peak and Decline of Spelling Reform

Carnegie Support

The New York Times, March 12, 1906

With the new financial support of Andrew Carnegie and the ongoing support by leading scholars (see: The Rise of the Spelling Reform Movement), the movement made some immediate gains.

The formation of the Simplified Spelling Board was announced on March 11, 1906. Andrew Carnegie provided virtually all of the initial funding for the New York City based organization. The New York Times described Carnegie’s support as being based on his believe that “English might be made the world language of the future” and “an influence leading to universal peace”, but that this role was obstructed by its “contradictory and difficult spelling”. His financial support included a commitment of $15,000 per year for five years. That would be a commitment of over $350,000 a year in 2010 dollars.

The Board

The inaugural board of the Board was a diverse and well-respected set of luminaries. Among the early board members were:

Chancellor Andrews of the University of Nebraska, Justice Brewer of the United States Supreme Court, President Butler of Columbia University, O. C. Blackmer of Chicago, Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Dr. Melvil Dewey (of Dewey Decimal Fame), Dr. Isaac K. Funk, editor and publisher of The Standard Dictionary; Lyman J. Gage, ex-Secretary of the Treasury; Richard Watson Gilder, editor of The Century Magazine; Dr. William T. Harris, United States Commissioner of Education and editor of Webster’s International Dictionary; Prof. George Hempel of the University of Michigan, Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry Holt, Prof. William James of Harvard, President Jordan of Leland Stanford University, Prof. Thomas R. Lounsbury of Yale, Prof. Francis A. March of Lafayette, Prof. Brander Matthews of Columbia, Dr. Benjamin E. Smith, editor, and Dr. Charles P. G. Scott, etymological editor, of The Century Dictionary; President H. H. Seedley of the Iowa State Normal School, Cedar Falls; Col. Charles E. Sprague, President of the Union Dime Savings Institution; Prof. Calvin Thomas of Columbia, Dr. William Hayes Ward, editor of The Independent, and President Woodward of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. (more…)

The Rise of the Spelling Reform Movement

The Rise of the Spelling Reform Movement

By the end of the 19th Century a movement was taking root in America with the goal of simplifying the spelling of English words through the adoption of standardized rules like those used in many other languages.  The adoption of shorter and easier spellings has been an ongoing part of the spread of English around the world. Nobody in the 19th Century would have demanded that their children be taught to read and spell exclusively in the spelling and grammatical styles of Chaucer or Shakespeare. However, when American intellectuals and industrialists tried to speed up the evolution of the English language along the path it had been on for 800 years, they discovered that many people in the United States and the United Kingdom were deeply attached to the bizarre and idiosyncratic aspects of our common tongue.

Early Spelling Reformers

As early as 1554 John Hart wrote a book on the “unreasonable writing of our English tongue”, and 15 years later he published “An Orthographic” containing his proposals for the improvement of English spelling.

Sir John ChekeIn the meantime, Sir John Cheke (1557) and Sir Thomas Smith (1568), both secretaries of state of Edward VI, advocated radical reforms in spelling. Smith proposed an alphabet consisting of 37 characters. William Bullokar (1580) also suggested an alphabet of 37 characters; Dr. Gill, a celebrated master of St. Paul’s School in London, suggested a 40 letter alphebet in 1619; and in 1633, Bishop Wilkins proposed yet another with 37 symbols.

James Howell, in his “Grammar” (1662), urged a number of simplifications in spelling, some of which such as honor for honour, logic for logique, sin for sinne, war for warre, bodily for bodilie, bear for beare, wit for witt, and their analogs are now in general usage; while others bel for bell, tru for true, etc. are still regarded by many as radical innovations.

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