Activationism: Cape Cod's feel good "cult" of 1948

Cultcodddd-1 "Do you want a 'real' experience to talk about when you get home from your vacation? Come and get yourself Activationized." That's what the flier read inviting Cape Cod tourists to a 1948 gathering of "Activationists." According to a LIFE magazine article, the founder, Milton Hood Ward, had "watched Indian and Haitian dancers whooping up their tribal rites (and) figured that inhibited Americans would feel better if they did the same thing." According the article, Ward, "counseled his followers, which included housewives, waitresses, fishermen and would-be artists, to uncork their emotions all over the place. 'Activate or Deteriorate' was his motto." Dig the photographic evidence over at
"Grooviest. Cult. Ever!"


  1. Arthur Janov and his primal scream, he was no original.

    I’m in love with the young 1948 woman. Is Mr. Dunwoody available to take me back to her?

  2. first thought, i would not mind being the guy doing the drumming next to that lady.

    second thought, the lady in said picture is likely my grandparents age.

    hello cognitive dissonance…

  3. “Ann Converse, member of old Boston family who works as Cape Cod waitress, expresses Activationist joy….”

    Sunscreen, girl.

  4. The great thing about being mainstream, American white people is that it takes so little to blow our minds. My son will have a harder time, having grown up on Sponge Bob and Portal.

  5. Hah! I cut these very pictures out of an old Life magazine found in a Maine farmhouse to use for collage. this was maybe 35 years ago….when they were less than half as old as they are now….

  6. If you look at the 5th picture in that series of a row of people dancing down the beach, it looks like Grandma was already part of the movement :)

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