Massachusetts Infant Asylum, 1893, Report of the Directors

The Directors of the Massachusetts Infant Asylum submit their Twenty-sixth Annual Report. The history of this year's work is most quiet and uneventful; but, on the whole, much more satisfactory than we feared that it would be at the beginning of the year. Then we were depressed by the loss of half our income, the State having decided to try for their infants the boarding-out system independently of us. Now, by the kindness of friends who came to our assistance, and helped us pay the board of the children out of the house, we show the good record of one hundred children under our care during the year, with only four deaths.

Here we would make an appeal to our subscribers and persons interested in saving infant life for added assistance in money. Any sum given regularly for board enables us to add to our boarding children. We pay two dollars and a half a week for each child at board. Every mother pays something toward the board of her child, but rarely more than one dollar and a half a week, and from that down to twenty-five cents a week, so that any sum that helps make up the two dollars and a half is very important to us. We are also very glad to have any friend responsible for an individual child, whom he or she can visit, and really learn to know and care for.

The expenses of the Asylum must always be large, as we have learned that it is good care that enables us to save life ; for all children, excepting those that come with their mothers, are very delicate, often extremely feeble, and we must think our exceptional health during such a hot summer as the last was due to the unwearied watchfulness of our Matron, Miss McKean, whose constant care and experience as a nurse detects the first symptom of illness. And everything in the life at the Asylum is adapted to forming regular habits in the children before they are sent to their boarding-places. We have only one death to report among our directors, that of Mrs. Wheeler, which occurred early in the year. She was much interested in our children and the success of our work.

We would gratefully acknowledge the kind assistance that we receive from physicians wherever we board children ; and our thanks are also due to the ladies of sewing circles, who make so many garments for our babies.

The Boarding Committee are each year more impressed with the value of their work. As soon as a child is old enough to be weaned it is sent to board in the country; and it ceases to be an institution child, and becomes one of a family, where it is visited by a Director or some other responsible person. We have some boarding-places which we have employed for many years. The plan works well in two ways : the child is benefited, and the money helps the woman who cares for it, and in some cases enables her to keep her own daughters at home, when otherwise they might be obliged to go out to earn their own living.

Every case that comes to us is peculiar and interesting; but I have chosen a few to show whom we help.

Case 1. Twins were brought to us, only nine days old, their mother having died three days after they were born. Their father, a Frenchman, unable to speak one word of English, a stranger in a strange land, was left with these two helpless babies; but through the kindness of a French lady, by whom he was employed, they were admitted to the Asylum, and now they are on their feet, although not yet a year old, strong and well.

Case 2. A child of German parents. The mother died shortly after the birth of the child. The father had four other children to care for, so this child was admitted at two months old.

Case 3. A child of a very inefficient mother, a widow, with one other child to support. He came at four months old. He was very ill for several weeks, but fully recovered, and is now a healthy, robust little fellow.

Case 4. A child of English parents, he was brought to us when ten days old, the mother having died at the time of his birth, the father having one other child to support.

Case 5. A child of Irish parentage. The mother was consumptive, and unable to take care of her child. He was brought to the Asylum after he had had cholera infantum at six months old. When admitted, he was so delicate that there was little hope of his recovery, but by careful nursing the child's life was saved. The mother has since died.

Case 6. Twins of a young Irish mother, who was deserted by her husband, were admitted, when six weeks old.

Case 7. A child of Germans. The mother, being ill, was obliged to go to the hospital. The older children were provided for, but no one could care for the baby. So we took him at six weeks old. The mother recovered, and gathered her children round her once more.

These cases happen to be of married parents ; but half our children are the children of unmarried women, whom we hope to protect and help, a most satisfactory, although only an incidental part of our work.

At the request of the Massachusetts Board of Managers, to the World's Columbian Exposition we have sent an exhibit of the Massachusetts Infant Asylum's method of taking care of infants under two years of age.

The exhibit comprises a crib with mattress, etc., made up as used by the baby at night, a rack covered with netting, on which the child lies during the day, a doll dressed in the clothes such as the Asylum furnishes for its inmates, a bottle for sterilizing milk, with directions for its use.

Two files of the annual reports of the Massachusetts Infant Asylum, each bound in a volume; a large scrap-book, into which is pasted a specimen of each printed form used by the different committees in transacting the business of the Asylum regarding admission, boarding out, adoption, and discharge, etc.

A chart giving important statistics, showing the number of infants cared for during the existence of the institution, the remarkably low rate of mortality, will also make a part of the exhibit.

1. "Report of the Directors", Twenty-Sixth Annual Report of the Directors of the Massachusetts Infant Asylum, Brookline, Massachusetts, 1893, Pages 6-9.

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