This was an amazing story. My mom grew up during this time and I talked with her about her experience last time we "studied" the topic of polio about a year and a half ago. My grandfather, her dad, had a mild case of polio.
From the movie, I learned that the March of Dimes started to combat polio. Up until that time, fundraising had relied on rich people giving large amounts of money. This campaign asked each family to send a dime to DC to help stop this horrible disease. It worked! Millions of dollars were raised, and it has changed the way charities raise money even today.
There are more resources online at PBS including a photo gallery, teacher's resources, then & now (about grassroots fundraising), a biography, an interview, and further reading (both books and websites). (And, The Polio Crusade is available to watch online!)
Here are some questions about the film that are on the PBS site. I had Alex answer them, and thought I'd share her answers here.
What is another name for infantile paralysis? POLIO
In what season did polio tend to strike? SUMMER
What rising young politician was stricken by polio in 1921? FDR
Why did polio become a bigger rather than a smaller problem after the adoption of modern sanitation systems? BECAUSE BABIES DIDN'T COME INTO CONTACT WITH THE POLIO VIRUS AND DEVELOP IMMUNITY TO IT
How was polio spread? WATER, PHYSICAL CONTACT, AND SHARING FOOD
What was the March of Dimes? A CHARITY THAT RAISED DIMES FOR POLIO RESEARCH
How did the March of Dimes spread its message among movie audiences? HAD CELEBRITIES LIKE JUDY GARLAND AND MICKEY ROONEY MAKE "COMMERICALS" ABOUT SENDING IN DIMES
Why did many towns use pesticides against polio? THEY WEREN'T SURE WHAT WAS SPREADING THE POLIO AND THEY WANTED TO DO SOMETHING Was this effective? IT WAS NOT EFFECTIVE
What researcher committed to developing a polio vaccine did O’Connor meet on a ship in 1951? JONAS SALK
How was this researcher’s planned vaccine different from other vaccines? HE WAS NOT GOING TO USE A LIVE VIRUS
What researcher was the main opponent of this approach? SABIN
What was the iron lung? A MACHINE THAT HELPED PARALYZED PEOPLE BREATHE
In what year was a major field test conducted of Salk’s vaccine? 1954 What were the results? GOOD - ABOUT 80 TO 90 PERCENT EFFECTIVE
Why did the surgeon general suddenly halt the vaccine program? BECAUSE THERE WAS A BAD BATCH AND CHILDREN WERE GETTING POLIO FROM THE VACCINE
What happened to the number of polio cases in the years after vaccines were widely distributed? IT DECREASED SUBSTANTIALLY
When was Sabin’s vaccine ready? 1962 What advantages did it have over Salk’s? YOU COULD DRINK IT
In what year was polio declared eradicated in the United States? 1973
Last time I posted about polio, I recommended 3 books. I just requested them from the library and I thought I'd list them again here:
- Dancing with Katya by Dori Chaconas - This is Alexandra's favorite and we've read it twice. It's a picture book about a girl whose little sister develops polio. They used to go out by the pond to dance and the big sister wonders if her little sister will ever dance again.
- Close to Home (Once Upon America book) by Lydia Weaver - This is a fiction book about a little girl whose mom works for Dr. Jonas Salk as they try to find a polio vaccine. One of the little girl's classmates is crippled from polio and another classmate's mom is terrified that her daughter will get polio so they live with all of their house windows nailed shut.
- Healing Warrior: A Story about Sister Elizabeth Kenny by Emily Crofford - This book is a true story about a nurse in Australia who makes up her own method of treating patients with polio... and is successful.
- Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret