Infant Care Society Headquarters

Not far from the General Municipal Hospital, the chair of pediatrics Arthur Schlossmann had a villa erected together with an aseptic cowhouse to produce infant milk as hygienically as possible. The frontage shows stylised infantile portraits and the whole complex was owned by the Infant Care Society of the district, then the most industrialized region of Prussia reaching from Essen /Ruhr and Elberfeld-Barmen /Wupper to the Dutch border. Many municipalities, counties and factories were institutional members of this prosperous society, moreover prominent individuals, so that this society could even match the imperial Auguste-Victoria Foundation in the Rhineland. Manager of the Düsseldorf society was Dr. med. Marie Baum who also conducted scientific investigations into determinants of infant mortality. Nourishment was presumend to be the most important factor, thus an emphasis was laid on breastfeeding campaigns. Another main issue were courses for mothers and for infant nurses as a new female profession. When in the hot summer months of 1911 infant mortality reached dreadful peaks as in earlier decades, the society came to realise that their initial success was far from stable. During WWI and in the Weimar Republic, national social welfare systems took over many tasks and the society was dissolved due to financial difficulties during inflation.

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Lit.: Jörg Vögele, „Has All That Has Been Done Lately For Infants Failed?” 1911, Infant Mortality and Infant Welfare in Early-Twentieth Century Germany, in: Annales de démographie historique 2010-2, 131-146.
Silke Fehlemann, Armutsrisiko Mutterschaft: Mütter- und Säuglingsfürsorge im rheinisch-westfälischen Industriegebiet 1890-1924, Diss. phil., Klartext, Essen 2009.

Picture: Jörg Wiegels Wikimedia; text Thorsten Halling & Ulrich Koppitz

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