'Salk hops': teen health activism and the fight against polio, 1955 – 1960

Stephen E. Mawdsley

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In the late 1950s, a health charity, known as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (March of Dimes), organized American teens into volunteer divisions to fight polio, as well as tame adult anxieties surrounding juvenile delinquency. The alliance that developed permitted the NFIP to increase its influence and revenue, while granting teens an opportunity to assert their cultural power and challenge negative stereotypes. Although the NFIP nurtured and at times dominated the relationship, young volunteers joined for their own reasons and shaped the program to suit their own aspirations and interests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalCultural and Social History
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2016


  • juvenile delinquency
  • march of dimes
  • national foundation for infantile paralysis
  • teens against polio
  • United States
  • poliomyelitis
  • vaccination

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