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Advice to Mothers

These examples were taken from an exhibition to accompany a Centre for the History of Medicine workshop on 'Advice to Mothers', held at the Modern Records Centre.

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version of each document.

Try searching our online catalogue to find information about more documents relating to these subjects.

 
Fabian Society tract on 'The endowment of motherhood'
Fabian Society tract on 'The endowment of motherhood', 1910

The author, H D Harben, suggests that the state should provide financial and medical assistance for mothers in order to reduce the infant mortality rate

[From the archives of the Union of Post Office Workers, document reference: MSS.148/UCW/6/13/41/1]

Advertisements for publications relating to the care of young children, 1910
Advertisements for publications relating to the care of young children, 1910

The adverts were included in the inside covers of 'The Endowment of Motherhood'. Several reflect the concern about infant mortality rates.

[From the archives of the Union of Post Office Workers, document reference: MSS.148/UCW/6/13/41/1]

 Labour Party leaflet regarding financial assistance for mothers, 1920s
Labour Party leaflet regarding the League of Nations Washington convention on the employment of women before and after childbirth, 1920s

The convention, which provided a form of paid leave for mothers immediately before and after childbirth, had been ratified in other European countries, including France, Italy and Denmark.

[From the archives of the Union of Post Office Workers, document reference: MSS.148/UCW/6/13/41/7]

 Labour Party leaflet regarding financial assistance for mothers, 1920s
Labour Party leaflet demanding 'Mothers' Pensions', 1920s

The idea of a widow and "kiddies" forced by poor pay and hunger into the workhouse is used to illustrate the need for state assistance for mothers.

[From the archives of the Union of Post Office Workers, document reference: MSS.148/UCW/6/13/41/8]

 Joint Trades Union Congress and Labour Party memorandum on the work of maternity and infant welfare centres, 1926
Joint Trades Union Congress and Labour Party memorandum on the work of maternity and infant welfare centres, 1926

The memorandum looks at the "achievements of the state in health services" and notes areas for improvement, including reducing the child mortality rate and providing assistance to women at home.

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/824/1]

 Leaflet from the Workers’ Birth Control Group, demanding that information on birth control should be made available to working mothers through maternity and welfare centres, c1928
Leaflet from the Workers’ Birth Control Group, demanding that information on birth control should be made available to working mothers through maternity and welfare centres, c1928

The leaflet emphasises the risks of childbirth (e.g. four times more women died from childbirth than men killed in mining accidents) and the strain of continual pregnancies.

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/824/1]

Resolutions of British delegates to the Third Women’s International Conference of the Labour and Socialist International on the mother and child, 1928
Resolution of British delegates to the Third Women’s International Conference of the Labour and Socialist International on the mother and child, 1928

The resolution "declares that it is one of the fundamental problems of Socialism to secure the healthy birth of each new generation", and advocates free medical and nursing care, financial aid, domestic assistance, better education, and research into maternal mortality and the effects of physical labour on girls and young women.

[From the records of the Transport and General Workers' Union, document reference: MSS.126/TG/RES/X/749B]

 Report on maternal mortality to be presented to the National Conference of Labour Women (published by the Labour Party), 1928
Report on maternal mortality to be presented to the National Conference of Labour Women (published by the Labour Party), 1928

The report states that, whilst the infant mortality rate had been reduced over the past twenty years, that of mothers in childbirth "has remained almost stationery".

[From the records of the Transport and General Workers' Union, document reference: MSS.126/TG/RES/X/749B]

 Memorandum about the co-ordination of child welfare services in Liverpool, 1928
Memorandum about the co-ordination of child welfare services in Liverpool, 1928

This memorandum outlines the city's scheme for "looking after the health of children from birth to the school leaving age [14 years]".

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/824/1]

 Statistics relating to infant welfare centres in Liverpool, 1928
Statistics relating to infant welfare centres in Liverpool, 1928

These statistics record the distribution of free or subsidised milk to infants, nursing mothers and ante-natal cases.

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/824/1]

 Leaflet advertising a conference on the giving of information on birth control (to married couples) by public health authorities, 1930
Leaflet advertising a conference on the giving of information on birth control (to married couples) by public health authorities, 1930

The conference was organised by the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship, the Society for the Provision of Birth Control Clinics, the Women's National Liberal Federation, and the Workers' Birth Control Group.

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/824/1]

 Leaflet containing advice to prospective mothers from the Maternal Mortality Committee, 1931
Leaflet advising prospective mothers to put aside their natural reserve and seek medical advice during their pregnancy, 1931

Published by the Maternal Mortality Committee.

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/824/1]

 Notes on the work of an almoner [social worker] in a maternity hospital, 1932
Notes on the work of an almoner [social worker] in a maternity hospital, 1932

The author described her work at the Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh.

[From the records of the Institute of Medical Social Workers, document reference: MSS.378/IMSW/A/17/6/6]

 Leaflet advertising ‘The Young Student’s Book of Child Care’, c1949
Leaflet advertising ‘The Young Student’s Book of Child Care’ by Mildred Lister, c1949

The book, published by the National Association for Maternity and Child Welfare, contained advice on all aspects of childcare, including hygiene, feeding, clothing, medical care and "the formation of character".

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/824/4]

  Booklet relating to the Salvation Army 'Mayflower' training home for neglectful mothers in Plymouth, 1950
Booklet relating to the Salvation Army 'Mayflower' training home for neglectful mothers in Plymouth, 1950

The residential home was set up as an alternative to prison for mothers who had been convicted of child neglect. It was intended to teach them "cookery and sewing, laundering and hygiene, and how to be a real mother".

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/825/7]

 Leaflet advertising a ‘Mothercraft Exhibition’, 1952
Leaflet advertising a ‘Mothercraft Exhibition’, 1952

The exhibition was intended to "keep the modern mother up-to-date in knowledge and techniques of home and family management". Activities ranged from lectures on health and child welfare to a "baby handling competition" for "menfolk".

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/824/5]

Booklet about maternity care services provided by the National Health Services, 1957
Booklet about maternity care services provided by the National Health Service, 1957

The NHS booklet includes information about medical services and advice on milk and vitamins.

[From the records of the Trades Union Congress, document reference: MSS.292/824/5]