Guide to the United States

from the 1916 book of the same name by John Foster Carr

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How Public Schools Care for the Health of Their Pupils.


The conditions of life in America are not the same as they are in Europe; and because immigrants are not familiar with them, they are apt to suffer greatly in consequence--particularly on their first arrival. They meet with accidents because our civilization depends far more upon machinery than that to which they have been used. They fall victims to disease because of difference in working and living conditions.

A workingman's capital is a strong, well body. But when men live crowded together, as they do in our tenement houses and in the shanties of a camp, their vitality is lowered, and they become ready subjects to such diseases as pneumonia, and, what is far worse, consumption. A great many immigrants who have been strong and well on their arrival in this country have died from tuberculosis within three years of their coming.

To avoid disease and lowered vitality you should keep very clean, eat well, sleep in well-aired rooms, and live much in the open air.

It is never dangerous in America to sleep with your windows open. If there are mosquitoes put nets on the windows. PREVENTION IS THE BEST CURE FOR DISEASE. AVOID BAD AIR, BAD FOOD, BAD WATER, BAD HABITS.

RULES OF HEALTH-- Clean water, clean food, clean bodies, clean clothes, clean houses, clean streets keep us healthy. Keep your sink and closet clean.

Keep your hands clean, especially for eating. Long, dirty finger nails may be the pasture land of myriads of germs.

Cleanliness, with sunlight, and plenty of fresh air protect the well and cure the sick. They are often the best medicines. Never rent dark rooms.

Eat heartily of different kinds of food. Variety of food is necessary.

Avoid strong drinks. Strong drinks make weak men. DRINK A GOOD DEAL OF WATER EACH DAY. Water aids digestion and circulation. Water carries away the waste of the body. But the water that you drink should be pure. When it is impure, it causes typhoid fever and other diseases. If possible drink well water, but the well must not be near a stable or other outbuildings that might take sewerage into it. If the water does not look clear, be sure to boil it before using, because boiling removes dangerous qualities that might cause disease.

BATHING removes the dirt that stops up the pores of the body. Bathing washes away dead skin, the perspiration and other waste of the body. Bathing makes the skin clean and soft. It gives tone and strength to the whole body. Bathing prolongs life. BATHE THE WHOLE BODY ONCE EVERY DAY AT THE MARKET-- Buy only fresh meat and fresh fish.

Do not buy bread and cake at dirty bakeries.

Are your grocer and butcher cleanly in person? Are their clerks cleanly?

Does your grocer keep his butter and milk in clean, cold places, and are they covered? Select a milk man who has clean hands, clean clothes, clean wagon, clean cans, clean bottles. Tuberculosis kills 5,000,000 people annually. It may be carried through infected milk. Do not forget that dirty milk may kill the baby.

Canned meats must be free from mold and greenish hue when opened. If the top of the can is raised in the centre, the meat has begun to spoil and should not be eaten.

Don't buy bargain-counter food.

IN THE KITCHEN-- Keep all food covered in icebox or cupboard. Do not leave milk uncovered anywhere. Do not leave milk in a warm room or unchilled ice-box. Protect it from flies.

Wash thoroughly all meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit before using.

DISHES SHOULD BE CLEAN, and food fresh cooked.

THE COOK'S HANDS MUST BE CLEAN. Typhoid fever and other diseases have been contracted from dirty hands.

Keep flies out of your house, especially the kitchen. Grease and dirt attract them. Kill every fly you see. They cause many diseases. Bugs and mice carry infection; they never stay in clean places.

SWEEPING AND DUSTING-- Dust contains germs that cause disease. When you sweep or dust make as little dust as possible. The best way to sweep is to moisten a newspaper, tear it into small pieces, and scatter these upon the floor. This will catch the dust, and hold it fast as you go over the room with the broom. The best way to dust is to use slightly moistened cloths and wash them when you have finished.


It is the duty of the citizen to do everything possible for the good health of himself and his fellows. Garbage and ashes should be dumped promptly into the receptacles provided for them. Where conditions are not hygienic either in the care of water-closets, the disposal of garbage, or the plumbing of houses, complaint should promptly and freely be made to the Board of Health. This is the American way. And in America you should do as Americans do.

THE BOARD OF HEALTH in all American cities has great power given to it. It can oblige people to keep their houses and living-rooms in a sanitary condition. It has power to force employers to keep their shops and factories in a sanitary condition. In every American city it watches to see that food is properly kept in the stores where it is sold. In the case of large cities it sends its inspectors to visit every part of the country from which the milk supply of the city is drawn. It often publishes for free distribution circulars--in New York and in some other places printed in Yiddish--that tell about the care of babies, of their feeding, and the use of pasteurized milk, which has saved thousands of lives. Other circulars tell about the treatment of different diseases like consumption, the care and preparation of food, and general living conditions. These things may all be had freely, and are very important to those who do not understand the conditions of life in America.

The Board of Health also watches over the children in school, and by means of its doctors makes frequent examinations of the eyes, ears, teeth, throat, etc., of the children. The sickly child is always behind in his studies. Only well children make progress.

The large cities of the United States offer MANY ADVANTAGES THAT MAKE FOR HEALTH AND PLEASURE, all paid for by the taxes. There are many large public baths that make cleanliness possible for people who have no opportunity for bathing at home. They are very popular with city dwellers. There are playgrounds for children, with open air gymnasiums for men and boys. In New York there are recreation piers built out into the river, where mothers can take their small children during the hot weather, and where it is pleasant to promenade in the evening, and often upon these piers excellent concerts are given. Public parks with their frequent concerts give the city dweller opportunities for rest and for breathing the fresh country air.

IN SICKNESS-- Beware of the Medical Institutes that advertise in the newspapers, that pretend to cure every kind of disease, even those that are incurable. They will take your money and often make your disease worse.

Beware of patent medicines--particularly those for children.

When you are sick, go to a hospital or to a dispensary. American hospitals are supported by the taxes and by the gifts of the wealthy. They are entirely free to the poor. They are splendidly equipped, and in them rich and poor are treated with equal skill and tenderness. Besides general hospitals, in all large cities, there are a great variety of special hospitals: Maternity hospitals and hospitals for children, as well as hospitals for special diseases: cancer, tuberculosis, contagious diseases, for diseases of ear, eye, throat, etc. In New York there are several important Jewish hospitals with free dispensaries and nurses, who visit the sick in their own homes. Nearly all are provided with Kosher kitchens. None of them take cases of contagious or infectious diseases. Among them are: Beth Israel Hospital, 70 Jefferson Street; Har Moriah Hospital, 138 East 2nd Street; People's Hospital, 203 Second Avenue; Beth David Hospital, 1824 Lexington Avenue; Mount Sinai Hospital, Madison Avenue and 100th Street; Lebanon Hospital, Westchester and Caldwell Avenues; Jewish Maternity Hospital, 270 East Broadway.

CONSUMPTION-- In the great majority of cases consumption, once considered incurable, is not a fatal disease. It can nearly always be cured if its presence is recognized early. If you are troubled with continual coughing and catarrh, you may be in danger, and should immediately consult a doctor or go to a hospital or dispensary for examination. If you then find you have tuberculosis, do not be swindled by advertised cures, specifics and "special methods"-- the remedies so widely advertised in the newspapers. The only cures are pure air and sunshine, outdoor life, and nourishing food. The Board of Health in New York, and in many other cities, publishes in Yiddish the rules for its care. If you have not the means to procure the attention of a skillful physician, go to any public hospital. The Jewish hospitals all have clinics for the treatment of the tuberculous poor, and provide in case of need for sending them to sanatoria in the country.

CONTAGIOUS DISEASES-- It is the duty of the doctor in charge of one ill with a contagious disease to report the nature of the disease to the Board of Health. The Board of Health may isolate any person sick of a contagious disease. If a landlord rents an apartment knowing it to be contaminated, without making declaration of the fact to the one taking the lease, he is responsible for all damages incurred by reason of the infection. Persons sick with contagious disease may be carried to a hospital and held there. One sick with contagious disease is liable to be punished if he exposes himself or another similarly sick in any public place.

VACCINATION-- Vaccination is not required by law, but the man who is not vaccinated may be prevented from entering the country, and unvaccinated children are liable to be excluded from school.








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