Mid-20th century Americans feared polio almost as much as they feared the atomic bomb. “It’s hard to imagine today how pervasive the fear was, and how embedded in the American psyche,” says author Kathryn Black, whose mother was stricken by the disease. That fear motivated Americans to support the cause.
One non-medical legacy of the crusade against polio is in the area of grassroots fundraising. Traditionally, charitable causes relied on large sums of money from wealthy benefactors. But the March of Dimes’ approach proved that seeking small contributions from the millions was an effective strategy.
Times have changed, and now many Americans donate money with the click of a mouse instead of an envelope and a stamp. It’s becoming hard to find a charity or cause that doesn’t accept online donations, no matter how small. According to Federal Election Commission filings, in his 2008 presidential campaign, Democratic candidate and ultimate victor Barack Obama raised a staggering amount, more than $656 million, from individual contributions, and racked up nearly 2.4 million individual donations. More than half of those individual donations were for $200 or less.
Learn more about Presidential campaign funding today.
Federal Election Commission
The first man to fly across the Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh was unprepared for the attention, particularly after his son was kidnapped.
The unusual life of David Vetter, who lived permanently inside a germ-free environment due to severe combined immunodeficiency.
As the star attraction of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Annie Oakley thrilled audiences around the world with her shooting feats. Part of the Wild West collection.
A wry philosophical essay on what makes baseball the great American pastime.
With data compiled from tens of thousands of sex questionnaires, Alfred Kinsey changed America's views about sex with the Kinsey Reports.
The evocative stories of teenage hoboes crisscrossing America on trains during the Great Depression.
Roman Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin used the power of radio to rail against the nation's economic system in the Depression.
During World War II, more than a thousand women signed up to fly with the U.S. military as WASPS.