Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Child-Rearing and the Gentler Sex in 1919

At a local used book store I stumbled upon Your Baby, by E. B. Lowry, M.D. Published in 1919 by Forbes and Company, this book bills itself as "A Guide for Young Mothers." I find it hard to even introduce this book. It speaks for itself, if any book ever has, and anything I could say to introduce it would fall far short of the impact of the author's own words. Excerpts follow, and the book is now available for purchase on eBay.


"It is strange that in our great system of public eduation no provision is made to train girls for their great work in life. There is no reason why the proper care of babies should not be a required study [for girls] in school. It certainly would be of much more practical and economic benefit in later life than many of the subjects that are now required."

"During the period of development there are great changes taking place in the girl's system... The school duties should be lessened and the girl allowed to rest on the days when Nature requires an extra amount of energy. The girl at this age should not attempt as much work as a boy does. Her time at this period might be better occupied in learning the rudiments of housekeeping and homemaking."

"It is more necessary that a woman be prepared for [homemaking and the bearing and rearing of children], her life work, than that she be prepared for a temporary position in an office or school, a position which she seldom keeps for more than a few years, after which she takes up her real life work."

"The proper method of feeding babies is more important for many girls to know than many of the things now taught in our public schools... Correlated with the instruction in cooking, sewing and the general care of the home should come the care of those very important members of the home -- the babies -- and each girl should be taught the care of her own health so that she might be properly prepared for motherhood."

"A normal woman, who has not become imbued with false ideas and fears, desires children."


"The expectant mother should give her child all possibly advantages of a good mental impression, and, during its prenatal life, the mother should think nothing but loving and wholesome thoughts."

"The mother should be careful not to take any violent exercise during the prenatal period... Ordinary housework is excellent exercise and does not have any bad effect upon the expectant mother."

"Just because a woman had had several children does not make her competent to advise others, for she may have given her own children such improper care that several of them died or were sickly."


"Thinking people have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to give some thought to the conditions surrounding the birth of children."

"Too many families have a habit of allowing members of the family to play with the baby during the evening, tossing it and otherwise exciting it." [Tossing it? Did people do that? --B2]

"The less a baby is handled, the better for its health."

"A well baby should not usurp the entire time of its mother. It should be able to amuse itself the greater part of the time."

"The baby should not be held except when being fed or bathed. The remainder of the time it should lie quietly in bed and require little attention."


TC Byrd said...

Hell, my father tossed me around--this was in the 60's. I turned out all right.

Really, though, you have to put this in context of the times. Sadly, this is not the most oppressive thing I have ever read. There are folks out there who are preaching the same basic message now. Check out http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com/

What's scarier--a book written by a person I am guessing is a man in the early 1900's, or this website written by women for women? (And this isn't even the site I went looking for--this is not an extreme site compared to some.)

bitchphd said...

"The baby should not be held except when being fed or bathed. The remainder of the time it should lie quietly in bed and require little attention."


We used to toss PK, actually. Gently, but still, tossing.

Devo said...

Yeesh... "hindsight is always 20/20... but looking back, it's still a bit fuzzy". I used that quote somewhere not too long ago...

Big shiny nickel for anyone who can identify the author!

Anyway, I just love those anachronistic public service things from back in the day. The movies are usually the best. Reefer Madness is among my favorites. Atomic Cafe is pretty fantastic too... Duck, and cover! yeah, THAT oughtta stop the pyroclastic flow of radioactive fire that aims to eradicate all life in its path!!! Thanks, Bert The Turtle!!!

Chandira said...

Well, I've been subject to wrong ideas and fears, obviously, as I'm not having any kids... Which is probably best for them! ;-)

That is scary sh*t. The book, and the website..

I was equally scared for the same reasons, at the whole Janet-boob incident, like boobs are evil? Why didn't women everywhere stand up and question that one??