“Safe and Sane Fourth” campaign in Boise

I scoured the internet looking for anything that might be interesting to test with our data for Boise, Idaho and the Fourth of July. I chanced upon Shaping the Nation: The Effect of Fourth of July on Political Preferences and Behavior in the United States by Andreas Madestam and David Yanagizawa-Drott. These two wanted to see if the amount of Fourth July celebrations could effect an individuals political preferences. While interested, I wasn’t interested in applying that to the data I had before me. But when I read the section, “A Brief History of Fourth of July”, I found some leads I could apply to my own search.


What caught my interest was the “Safe and Sane July Fourth” campaign. I had already noticed that phrasing popping up often in the articles we had, and now I figured I had something! It wasn’t a coincidence those words were showing up, a national effort was being made with those exact words. So I took to searching keywords in our data to see if I could find a trend.

I searched; injur*, death*, accident*, killed*, safe*, and “safe and sane”. And these were the results I got.

injurdeathaccidentkilledsafesafe and sane

So for words that tended to apply to my “safe and sane” search would be injur*and “safe and sane”. The other keywords didn’t correlate well, which is why they increase towards the end of the years I searched. Safe was used from safety on a community sense, or national sense with politics.

1910 was the first mentioning of “safe and sane” in the Idaho Statesman, and there was a lot of articles about fireworks causing harm during celebrations during that decade. But by 1940, things changed. Automobiles became the new killer, and fireworks, as mentioned in an article, “once a traditional Fourth of July Killer”, became no more. Boise, along with the rest of nation, made sure to mention that deaths/injuries/accidents/ect. that were happening during this holiday were not being caused by fireworks. They seemed more worried about mentioning that than addressing the increasingly alarming incidents that were happening with automobiles.

So with a short time span, we are working with 1910-1940 where Boise was attempting to follow the nation’s lead in promoting “safe and sane” fourth of Julys. Early attempts seemed to cause a little stir in Boise, as previously Fourth of July had been all about the fireworks and danger. One article mentioned small boys being disappointed that they couldn’t light off fireworks as they wished. Another article in 1911 mentioned that the holiday was almost unrecognizable without the fireworks.

191107055a so sane and safe, almost lost indetity

By 1913, the nation was trying so hard to prevent incidents with fireworks, that they were upset when something happened and “marred” the attempt at an uneventful celebration.

marred safe and sane_191307042

Even in 1940-1950, though firework incidents were going down, and automobile incidents were increasing, the nation was pushing to continue outlawing and shaming firework celebrations. Boise ended up creating the “Boise Ditch Safety Committee” to enforce those ideas within it’s own city.

1940 Article discussing deaths nationally due to fireworks and the National Safety Council condemning fireworks.
1950 fires banned
1950 Article banning fireworks for 175th celebration of Fourth of  July.

So we can see that Boise did make an attempt to follow the Nation with the “Safe and Sane” Fourth of July campaign. Boise banned fireworks, shamed incidents that ‘marred’ attempts of a “safe and sane” fourth, and created the Boise Ditch Safety Committee. But by 1950-1960, Boise and the Nation would turn their attention to the overwhelming amounts of traffic accidents that were occurring during this holiday.



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