Fort Devens Museum

Training Manual Cites Concerns of the 1920s

August 13, 2004

By C. David Gordon,
Copyright Nashoba Publications

DEVENS — The handbook for a student participating in the August 1924 session of Citizens' Military Training Camp made clear a set of basic rules and regulations thought to foster healthy community living.

Among the camp regulations are those prohibiting smoking "in corridors and store rooms, during drill instruction and lecture periods"; using "common drinking cups and towels"; "spitting on the floor"; and "gambling in any form." Sanitary regulations included one for "bathing and changing underclothes and stockings often" and "washing hands before going to mess."

As its concluding point regarding camp regulations, the booklet advises, "The student should remember that all orders and regulations are intended to increase the comfort and efficiency of the entire command and that any failure by the individual to conform thereto will react upon the whole command."

A preface to a set of additional "rules for good health" points out that it is "important that the body be used rightly at all times to insure the best health and greatest efficiency." This section prescribes "the correct position in standing or walking" and for sitting.

Also recommended is that the student "sleep without pillows or with a very thin one."

In order to fall asleep at night or relax on breaks during the day, the manual prescribes, "Lie for five minutes on the back with hands under the head and elbows resting on the bed. Take at least 10 deep, sighing breaths with mouth closed. Repeat if sleep is disturbed. Try to have at least two such periods a day especially after meals."