Children were a special concern of women reformers in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Assembling in federations and associations, women were, as Mary Odem has written, “especially active in efforts that aimed to protect women, children, and the home from the harmful effects of rapid urban growth and industrial capitalism.” Poor children were at risk due to industrial accidents, epidemics, and the stress and exhaustion of simply surviving in crowded tenements and polluted cities. Daphne Spain has suggested that women “saved the city” by starting political coalitions, improving neighborhood environments, and fighting for a wide range of protective legislation. Among those reforms was the nationwide movement to establish medical services for children. New pediatric wards and children's hospitals were intended to be places of comfort and cure as well as moral and spiritual education for the “little sufferers” and their parents.
David Sloane is professor of urban planning and history in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California. He is author of The Last Great Necessity: Cemeteries in American History (Baltimore, 1991) and coauthor with Beverlie Conant Sloane of Medicine Moves to the Mall Baltimore, 2003), as well as recent articles of the cultural landscape of memory and contemporary concerns about the relationship of urban planning and health.
1 I thank the journal's editor and anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments as well as Beverlie Conant Sloane, Greg Hise, Annmarie Adams, and David Theodore for their helpful reviews of earlier drafts. Paul Anderson and Philip Skroska at the Becker Medical Library at Washington University, Rob Medina at the Chicago Historical Society, and Dace Taube at the University of Southern California kindly aided with the illustrations. Versions of this paper were presented at the Society for American City and Regional Planning History Association, “Designing Modern Childhoods,” and Children in America conferences; I appreciate the comments from discussants and audience members.