Fresh Air Fund (1869)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Wed Dec 22 14:07:09 UTC 2004

My web site had about 200 hits by 8 a.m. this morning. Have I been  
advertising opn Dunkin Donuts coffee cups?
I just added "Fresh Air Fund" and I'm about to do the holiday slogan  
"Remember the Neediest."
"Fresh Air Fund" clearly dates to 1869, but it appears that the Fresh Air  
Fund has no idea of its own New York history. The FAF itself declares a  birth 
in 1877. How can this be? 
    6. a. Untainted, pure; hence, possessed of  active properties; 
invigorating, refreshing. Said esp. of air (also in  attrib. phrases, as fresh-air fiend 
or maniac
, etc.) and water. 

c1340  Cursor M. 11705 (Trin.) A welle  out braste A  stremes clere fresshe & 
colde. 1390 _GOWER_ (  
Conf. III. 16 There  sprang a welle fresh and clere. 14..  Tundale's Vis. 1071 
Sum of hom  thei madyn nesche As is the water that is fresche. 1535 
_COVERDALE_ (  Ps. xxii. 1 
He..ledeth  me to a fresh water. 1604 _SHAKES._ 
(  Oth. IV. iii. 45 The fresh Streames ran by her, and 
murmur'd her moanes. 1611  Cymb. V. iii. 71 [Death] hides him in fresh Cups, 
soft Beds, Sweet words. 1648 _GAGE_ 
(  West Ind. xvii. 117 A  fruit named is fresh and 
cooling. 1667 _MILTON_ (  
P.L.  I. 771 They among fresh dews and  flowers Flie to and fro. 1692 _RAY_ 
(  Dissol. World 82 The  
inferiour the Night so very fresh and cold. 1749 _BERKELEY_ 
(  Word to Wise Wks. III. 440 It takes 
the peasant from his smoky cabin into the fresh air. 1828 _SCOTT_ 
(  F.M. Perth xxxii, The  desire of 
fresh air..had carried her into 1855 _BAIN_ 
(  Senses & Int.  II. ii. §7 Fresh odours..that 
have an  action akin to pure air. 1882 N.Y.  Tribune 2 July 7/1 The work of 
the Fresh Air Fund..sending  children for a week or two from poor homes in 
unhealthy quarters of the city to  healthful villages and farms.  

Did the Fresh Air Fund start in 1877, as its history says? Or in  1869?

I found that it began under William A. Muhlenberg in 1869. Dr. Muhlenberg  
(see the 1898 article below, a review of his biography) appears to have  been a 
great citizen of New York, adding several reforms. If he deserves the  "fresh 
air fund" honors, he should get them.

The Fresh Air Fund is known for taking city kids out to the country. It  
operates in many cities, not just New  York.        
_ ( 

In 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, an independent not-for-profit  organization, was 
created with one simple mission — to allow children living in  disadvantaged 
communities to get away from hot, noisy city streets and enjoy  free summer 
vacations in the country. 

When The  Fund began, New York City was overflowing with poor children living 
in crowded  tenements. Many of these youngsters were hit by a tuberculosis 
epidemic, and  “fresh air” was considered a cure for respiratory ailments. 

125 years  ago, the Reverend Willard Parsons, a minister of a small, rural 
parish in  Sherman, Pennsylvania, asked members of his congregation to provide 
country  vacations as volunteer host families for New York City’s neediest 
children. This  was the beginning of The Fresh Air Fund. By 1881, the work of The 
Fund was  expanding so rapidly that Reverend Parsons asked for and secured 
support from  <i>The New York Tribune</i>. By 1888, The Fund was  incorporated as 
“The Tribune Fresh Air Fund Aid Society.” Today, Fresh Air  continues to 
benefit from the support of the media with invaluable assistance  from <i>The New 
York Times</i>. 

The Fund’s  tradition of caring provides children with a much-needed respite 
from the  inner-city streets. Thousands of youngsters enjoy summer vacations 
with  volunteer hosts or attend five Fund camps in upstate New York. 

The simplicity of our program is its strength. Looking back to  1877, we can 
reflect on how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same.  The Fund 
began with a small group of youngsters heading for the country and went  on to 
benefit more than 1.7 million needy children. 
8 June 1869, New York <i>Times</i>, pg. 4:
The proposition for a "Fresh-Air Fund," which has been started by that  truly 
good man, Rev. Dr. MUHLENBERG, for the purpose of procuring an occasional  
Summer excursion for the very poor people of the City, ought to be carried out.  
A few thousand dollars spent in this way - spent to procuring steamboats and  
barges that would carry a few hundred people daily out of their vile quarters 
to  places where they could get a sight of green fields or a breath of the 
fresh  sea-breeze - would not only be a sanitary but a humane and moral 
benefaction.  There should be no difficulty, and no delay, in raising the necessary  
2 August 1872, New York <i>Times</i>, pg. 8:
<i>First Excursion of the Poor Children of Brooklyn.</i>

The first excursion of the Brooklyn "Fresh Air Fund" took place yesterday.  
It was under the auspices of the <i>Union</i>, and is pronounced to  have been 
a decided success.
9 April 1877, New York <i>Times</i>, pg. 5:
William Augustus Muhlenberg died at 10:20 o'clock last evening, in his  
eighty-first year, after an illness of several weeks duration.
12 February 1898, New York <i>Times</i>, pg. BR111:
Dr. Muhlenberg was fifty years of age and in the full plenitude of his  
powers when he came to New York City and began a work the influence of which  upon 
the Church at large it would be difficult to estimate. His first work was  the 
establishment of a free church, where rich and poor should meet upon a  
common footing. In this church (Church of the Holy Communion) he out into  
operation many innovations which were then looked upon askance by his  fellow-clergy, 
but which now are common customs. Among these may be named the  first 
Protestant sisterhood in America, the first Christmas tree in New York  City for poor 
children, boys choirs, daily services, the first fresh-air fund,  and free 
seats, open, with low-kneeling benches, instead of private cushioned  pews.


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