‘Tis the Season

 By Jeffrey S. Reznick and Ginny A. Roth

A woman in a nurses uniform reaches out for help as American soldiers march behind her.

Have You Answered the Red Cross Christmas Roll Call?, 1918 
National Library of Medicine #C06140

Beginning today and through the month of December, Circulating Now offers a series of posts that highlight the health-related and holiday-themed ephemera in our collection. The historical image collections of the National Library of Medicine include a rich variety of these materials.

This World War I poster created by Harrison Fisher in 1918 was part of a fundraising campaign for the American Red Cross. The Roll Call was an annual donation drive to raise funds so the Red Cross could provide the necessary level of service required  during wartime. Public health campaigns have long involved a variety of media to help communicate their purpose, from posters and postcards to stamps and lapel pins, and many of these campaigns have used the holiday season to advance their causes and reach a wider audience.

This campaign began in 1917 and for 25 years it ran annually around the Christmas holiday. The public was called upon join the Red Cross membership and pay a $1.00 membership fee. The Roll Call was successful in raising millions of dollars for the organization and by the war’s end, the Red Cross had a total membership of over 20 million people.

Portrait of Jeffrey S. Reznick in the HMD Reading RoomJeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, is Chief of the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.
portrait of Ginny outside Ginny A. Roth is the Curator of Prints & Photographs in the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.