Modern Health Crusaders

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.

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.

Example of chores:

Ranks of the Modern Health Crusaders:

  • Page (the first 5 weeks of the program)
  • Squire (must do at least 54 chores per week for 5 weeks)
  • Knight (must do at least 54 chores per week for 10 weeks)
  • Knight Banneret (must do at least 54 chores per week in 15 weeks)
  • Advanced Order (added in 1919 to encourage children to repeat the program after successfully completing the 15 weeks - was entitled to wear color-coded ribbon under the pin)
  • Knight Banneret Constant (member for life, could only be earned after 4 years of program)

Additional Program:

  • Order of the Round Table (in addition to regular Crusader Chores the member was also in a Scouting program, or learned first aid or swimming, etc.)

 

Schools were encouraged to get involved in friendly rivalry between classrooms and join in with local, community, state and national tournaments.

 There was a uniform of sorts that was also promoted; a white cape with the National Tuberculosis Association double barred cross symbol in red along with a helmet shaped hat.

The rewards of completing the Modern Health Crusaders program was a series of certificates, pins and buttons. Many of the pins and buttons have dates on them. Those without dates can be divided into pre-1920 and post-1920 when the Modern Health Crusade's new "Cross of Nine Circles" was added to all pins and buttons, along with the double barred cross symbol. 

 

Pre-1920


Knight Pin (silver)
Knight Banneret if it were in gold

1916-1917

Squires received a certificate - no pin, in the early days


To earn this pin the child had to sell $1.00 worth of Christmas Seals along with agreeing to live healthy.

Knight Pin (silver)
Knight Banneret if it were in gold

1917-1918
Postcard showing the Knight Pin design

Modern Health Crusader and
American Red Cross Button

1917-1918


Squire Button
Undated

Image is Liberty holding a caduceus, the Greek symbol of healing in her left hand, and a shield with the double barred red cross, emblem of the health crusade.

Squire Button
1918-1919

Squire Button
1919

Leaflet showing the Squire button and the new Knight Pin design

Knight Pin
noted in May of 1918 as being a "new design"

Image is of a Crusader in armor, kneeling ready with his bow and arrow, behind a shield with the double barred red cross.



Knight Pin
1918-1919

Knight Pin
1919


Knight Banneret Pin
1919

 

1920 Modern Health Crusader



Squire Button
1920
With the new "Cross of Nine Circles" design


Knight Button
1920

Knight Banneret Pin
1920

 

 

Squire Buttons

 post 1920, unknown dates

 

Knight Buttons

 post-1920, undated



 

Knight Banneret

post 1920, unknown date

 


Example of a "Chore" folder for keeping a record of Modern Health Crusader chores, 1925


Knight Banneret Pin
Charging Horse design


Knight Banneret Pin
Walking Horse design


Knight Banneret Pin
Green Dragon design


Green Dragon

Knight Banneret Button
Charging Horse design

Knight Banneret
Walking Horse design


Knight Banneret Button
Green Dragon design

 

 

Knight Banneret Constant

post 1920, date unknown

 

 

 

 

Knights of the Round Table (KRT)  Modern Health Crusaders (MHC) Pin:





 

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.