Related commentaries – Honor

Picking Your Heroes

In 1898 a schoolteacher polled 1,440 children, aged twelve to fourteen, to find out what sort of heroes and heroines the children had. In that era 90% of the children picked their heroes from history and letters. Washington and Lincoln led the list, followed by Whittier, Clara Barton, Julius Caesar, and Christopher Columbus. Very few of them gave first place to living notables, even such national characters as champion skater John S. Johnson or heavyweight boxer James J. Corbett. Midway during the twentieth century a professor in the Massachusetts State Teachers College took a similar poll, and discovered a great change in modern youth. Only 33% picked their heroes and heroines from history. Franklin Roosevelt had passed Washington and Lincoln, though Clara Barton still led among girls. Thirty-seven percent of the votes went to the contemporary stars of screen, sports, radio, and the comics. (Donald Grey Barnhouse - Encyclopedia of Illustrations #1222).