• Tisha Dolton

Infant & Child Welfare Exhibit in Glens Falls, May 1914

On May 20, 1914 the Infant Welfare Exhibit opened at City Hall in Glens Falls. The multi-day event was created to help mothers better care for their babies and young children. According to the May 5, 1914 article in the Post-Star the "exhibit consists of placards, cartoons and photographs occupying about seventy linear feet and will be installed on the top floor of City hall."


The Post-Star, Tuesday, May 5, 1914 newspaper article "Infant and Child Welfare Exhibit" to be held May 20-23, 1914 in Glens Falls, NY.
The Post-Star, Tuesday, May 5, 1914

Another Post-Star article on May 19, 1914, states a "well trained baby welfare nurse*, employed by the state department to instruct mothers in the proper care of their infants and to give advice to expectant mothers, will be in charge of the child welfare station... She will not only give oral instructions, but will also distribute pamphlets carefully prepared by the department". This welfare station was a model that Public Health hoped cities like Glens Falls would adopt permanently, along with milk stations (see article transcript below).




Post-Star (Glens Falls, NY Warren County). May 22, 1914. P.9.

LADIES NIGHT AT THE EXHIBIT

__________

Political Equality Club Members to Visit Health Department’s Display

__________

INSTRUCTIVE ADDRESSES

________

Health Officer Palmer Says Every Mother in Glens Falls, Who Wishes Her Child to Live, Should Attend

_______

The Infant Welfare exhibit in City Hall was visited by large numbers of local people throughout yesterday and last evening and Mrs. Chichester* was kept busy demonstrating the proper method of handling and caring for babies. An unusual incident happened early last evening when a young mother brought her child to the exhibit. The infant was eleven months old and weighed only sixteen pounds. A glance at its pale face was enough to satisfy the nurse the baby was not well. After a short examination she found the child was badly in need of medical aid and ordered the mother to hurry at once to a physician.


This evening’s meeting promises to be one of the most interesting of the entire week. It will be ladies’ night and members of the Political Equality Club and other women’s organizations of the city will attend and take part in the meeting. Among the speakers will be Dr. Annett[a] Barber, Mrs. Edward Reed, Mrs. Hemingway and a woman representative of the State Department of Health.


In speaking of the exhibit yesterday, Dr. Floyd Palmer, city health officer, said:


“Every mother in the city who wishes to give her child the best possible chance to live would visit the Infant Welfare exhibit and consult the nurse in charge of the welfare station. Mrs. Chichester* will not only answer questions as to the care of children but she has the facilities to demonstrate the preparation of food, how to wash and dress the baby, how to arrange its bed so that it may have the greatest possible amount of fresh air, how it can be protected from the flies in the summer and many other matter vitally affecting the health of the baby.”


… Thomas at the state department was the principal speaker last evening. He discussed the welfare station in a most able manner citing the great benefits that have derived in every community where a station had been established. He described the difficulties encountered by the State Department of Health when it started its campaign to save the babies’ lives. It was not until after careful study it was learned that the welfare station and the proper instruction of the mother before birth of the child and after was the method by which the best results could be accomplished.


He proposed making a public health station out of the welfare station and outlined a great many uses to which it could be put as well as for dispensing milk. He said that children of the city could be taken there and given drills in the proper method of cleaning their teeth and of caring for the same. He said the establishment of such a station as he hoped would be located in Glens Falls would mean cleanliness among mothers and children of all classes and would do much to drive disease out of the city.


Elmer J. West, one of the most active members on the Glens Falls committee for the prevention of tuberculosis, was the second speaker of the evening and he stated he had been greatly impressed during his short study of the welfare station by the cleanliness which it necessitated. He said that inasmuch as the tuberculosis committee was not able to convince the county board of supervisors of the great necessity of a tuberculosis hospital, he felt that the greatest step toward eliminating the... plague would be to establish the child welfare station.


"You and all other good hearted people" are watering the babies so "little things spruce up". Political Cartoon, Post-Star, May 14, 1914
"You and all other good hearted people" water babies so "little things spruce up". Political Cartoon, Post-Star, 5/14/1914

Some of the local health and community officials who spoke on the care babies, and expectant mothers were:



Dr. Annetta E. Barber (1859–1945) Though born along Lake Champlain, Dr. Barber spent much of her medical career in Glens Falls, NY where she was active in local, state, and national medical associations, women’s clubs, and civic organizations. She was active in the Glens Falls Political Equality Club from 1902-1917, and was elected treasurer of the club in 1903. She also served on the Meetings and Programs committee in 1914, and on the Membership committee in 1915. Dr. Barber presented a number of papers to the club based on some of her medical research including one titled “What the World Owes to the Scientific Discovery of Medicine and Surgery”. She was a charter member of the local Zonta branch, as well as both the Tri-County & Glens Falls Associations for the Blind. She retired to and is buried in her hometown of Chazy, Clinton County, NY.


Dr. Floyd Palmer (1874-1945) was a physician in Glens Falls for over 40 years. He served

as city Health Officer, and later as Warren County Coroner. As Captain he was assigned to Base Hospital #91 and returned from World War I on a ship from France in August 1919.



Elmer J. West (1856-1927) was Vice President of Adirondack Electric and Power Corporation on Ridge St in Glens Falls, NY. In 1914 he was also on the city Civil Service Commission. His wife Dora Brown West, and his sisters-in-law, Harriet B. West and Mary DeLong West were members of the Glens Falls Political Equality Club (and other women's clubs) along with Dr. Barber and Mrs. JC Hemingway, whose husband was Superintendent of Power at AEP Corp. This explains why AEP Corp. became the canvasing office of the suffrage group during the Empire State Campaign of 1914-1915.



Post-Star (Glens Falls, NY Warren County). May 19, 1914. P.5.

ASCERTAINING STRENGTH OF WOMAN’S SUFFRAGE

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Political Equality Club Members Begin Strenuous Campaign Throughout City

__________

The Political Equality club members yesterday started a strenuous canvas of Glens Falls to ascertain how each man and woman of the city stands toward the Woman’s suffrage question. A similar campaign started all over New York state yesterday, and by June 1, the leaders expect to have a good idea of just how much support is coming their way.

The local club has its headquarters in the ground floor office of the Adirondack Electric Power Corporation building in Ridge street. It will be opened from 9 a. m. until 6 p. M. Between the hours of 4 and 6 o’clock coffee and cakes will be served free of charge. The coffee will be made in the Adirondack electric coffee pots. Suffrage literature will be given away and also offered for sale.


SOURCES:


Online resources used to write this post include newspapers.com, ancestry.com, and findagrave.com.


Empire State Campaign Committee, “Empire State Campaign Materials [1915].,” Ann Lewis Women's Suffrage Collection, accessed May 21, 2021, https://lewissuffragecollection.omeka.net/items/show/2232.


Ireland, M.W, Arthur Griswold Crane, and Julia Catherine Stimson. “Base Hospital.” Essay. In The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, 630–748. Washington, DC: U.S Government printing office, 1927.


I also consulted the Women's study clubs collection, 1905-1958, Glens Falls City Directories, Warren County cemetery indexes, & the biographical vertical files held in the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library.


Suffragist Dr. Annetta E. Barber is featured in the Folklife Gallery exhibition, Equali-tea: Suffragist Tea Cozies in Redwork, A Suffrage Centennial exhibition.


Tisha Dolton is Librarian/Historian at The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. Her areas of interest are suffrage music, suffragists of Warren and Washington Counties, local women and minority populations, and embroidery.


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