The effects of polio can be found throughout American culture: in
the lives of people who survived it, through changes to philanthropy,
and in new approaches to the design of everyday objects.
Universal Design, also called Design for All, originated in the 1960s
and 1970s political movement to ensure equitable use of public
space and facilities for all people. Founders Ron Mace and Ruth
Lusher, who had had polio, prodded architects, builders, and designers
about inclusion and helped to implement federal guidelines.
Left: Ron Mace, founder of the movement for Universal
Right: The exhibition was conceptualized using the principles described in this poster.
This image includes several books and pamphlets related
to Universal Design, as well as a levered door handle and a vegetable peeler
with a textured, contoured grip. The handle and peeler illustrate the universal
design principles related to ease of use and intuitive function.
In 1946, the Mercury dime was replaced by the familiar FDR dime, which
honors President Franklin Rooseveltís leadership in combating polio. The
coin was designed by John R. Sinnock, chief engraver at the U.S. Mint.
Left: The Director of the U.S. Mints and the superintendent
of the Phildelphia mint examine the bronze and plaster casts for the FDR
dime, 1946 Courtesy of National Archives
Right: 1946 dime with likeness of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Candy Land and Candy Bars
People who had polio were responsible for some familiar household
items, such as Milky Way Bars and the children's game,
Left: Frank C. Mars, seen here in the 1890s, contracted
polio as an infant Courtesy of Mars Family. Mars Milky Way candy box
from around 1930 and Mars company candy package Courtesy of Mars Family
Right: This is the first Candy Land board, from 1949. The game was invented
by Eleanor Abbott in 1940. The 30 year old Abbott got the idea during her recuperation
from polio, as a way to amuse herself and the children around her. Courtesy
of Hasbro Games
Fund-raisers for cancer, heart ailments, AIDS, and other diseases have adopted strategies for mass, grassroots giving that were used by the March of Dimes. The first March of Dimes walkathon, WalkAmerica, to obtain funds for research related to premature births and birth defects, took place in San Antonio, Texas, in 1970.
Banner, pin, T-shirt, and iron-on patch promoting
Finding Clothes that Fit
The physical effects of polio often produce bodily differences that require patience and creativity in everyday activities.
Left: Tobin Siebers’s red shoes Courtesy of
Right: Tobin and Jill Siebers at their wedding in 1981