Ye Olde Health Book: Be a Good Little Citizen

I love library book sales because I can always find a bargain or two. I happened upon a bunch of books that were in a free pile at a book sale a few months ago. One book caught my eye.

Your Health and Happiness. I opened it and loved it immediately. This little gem had me chuckling right there in the hallway. The book went straight into my purse and even though it was free, I really couldn’t believe my luck. I can see why it was offered for nothing, but wow. So much potential.

Oh, it’s old. Can anyone guess the year?

“Learn about health and practice its rules so that you may become a useful citizen”

Pass an invisible baton, boys!

Physical defects like “Mental upsets”

I can’t imagine how bad you would feel about yourself if you read this and had a “defect”

Be able to use these words in sentences of your own…. ‘physical defect,’ ‘mental upsets’

“Keep a record on your chart of the physical defects corrected”

School gardens are not a new idea.

“A child can get too much of one kind of food and become unhealthy”


“When you go to the store for your mother, has she ever said to you, ‘Be sure to get full-pod lima beans’? Sometimes we see beans that are flat and withered. They were grown from poor seeds.”

Thought questions “for health and happiness”

“Take good care of plants and animals for which you are responsible.”

Although this book is hopelessly politically incorrect at times (and reads like a propaganda film), there is much to learn about how health was viewed more than fifty years ago. Before large-scale industrial food production. Before fast food. Before the Big Gulp. Reading over the book has made me shake my head, stare in disbelief, laugh knowingly, and even lament the loss of knowledge. It’s worth clicking on the photos and reading what was written on the first pages I’ve shared above.

Excerpts from Your Health and Happiness will be a weekly feature. By the way, they have multiple chapters on food and meals, including a little about school lunch. You will chuckle, too.

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12 thoughts on “Ye Olde Health Book: Be a Good Little Citizen

  1. I LOVE finds like this! 🙂 I come from a long line of teachers, and a few years back I went through my grandmother’s education books from the 50’s. Wow.

  2. I’m old enough to remember having books like this when I was in school.  The real turning point was the formation of our current farm policy in 1972 under USDA chief Earl Butz.  It was a knee-jerk reaction to world grain shortages resulting from Russia’s failed crops that year.  It was also politically motivated as Butz sought to bring the support of our country’s farmers to the Republican party by arranging the sale of 30 million tons of U.S. grain to the Russians.  With that support, Richard Nixon was reelected to a 2nd term.

    Butz reengineered many farm support programs that were adopted under FDR’s leadership during the Great Depression.  The old policies were favorable to small family farms.  Butz’ vision was for those small farms to be replaced by large industrialized farms growing commodity crops.  We operate today under a farm policy that will turn 40 years old next year.  It favors big agribusiness and has changed little in those 40 years.  It’s the reason we have cheap food (relative to the rest of the world) based primarily on corn and soybeans.  And, I believe, it’s the reason the typical American diet is so poor.  It lacks the variety that was possible under our country’s prior farm policies.

    Your point that there has been a loss of food and nutrition knowledge over recent decades is well taken, Mrs. Q.  I believe that phenomenon is a direct result of U.S. farm policy.

    1. Thanks for sharing so much history. The farm policy is in need of work. I’m going to post on it some time this summer! Take care!

  3. It must be from around WWI or WWII since “under God” isn’t in the Pledge of Allegiance.

  4. I love it!

    I think it’s kind of sad that today’s government promotions of good health seem so hollow and lame in comparison.  But making it our patriotic duty gives me the creeps too!

    I have very flat feet, and I didn’t know this could exclude me from military service.  I felt kind of awful for a minute there, but now I’m ok with it.

    1. I knew about the flat feet requirement, but I think that has been pretty much fazed out of the exclusionary criteria in the modern military. Sorry you felt bad!!

  5. My mom worked at a public library for years and lots of these old text books found their way from the discard stacks to my boxes of books (what can I say…. I get a kick out of them!)

    As for how old this is…. somewhere between WWII and the Korean War, because it mentions WWII and then talks about how we hope war will never come again… so maybe 1947 or 1948?

    1. YOU ARE RIGHT — 1946 is the year it was published. I hope that when my book comes out, people don’t laugh at me in 50+ years. Actually, I hope they don’t laugh at me the day after it’s published! 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing this. Old books really crack me up. Sadly, private schools I taught in were using curriculum this old. I couldn’t believe some of things in those books. Made for a good laugh though =)

    1. I really had a chuckle with this one. I can’t wait to share some more of it — really funny stuff

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