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A Social History of Wet Nursing in America: From Breast to Bottle examines the intersection of medical science, social theory, and cultural practices as they shaped relations among wet nurses, physicians, and families from the colonial period through the twentieth century. It explores how Americans used wet nursing to solve infant feeding problems, shows why wet nursing became controversial as motherhood slowly became medicalized, and elaborates how the development of scientific infant feeding eliminated wet nursing by the beginning of the twentieth century. Janet Golden's study contributes to our understanding of the cultural authority of medical science, the role of physicians in shaping child rearing practices, the social construction of motherhood, and the profound dilemmas of class and culture that played out in the private space of the nursery.Read more
- First comprehensive history of wet nursing in the United States
- Combines case studies with analysis of prescriptive literature and quantitative methods
- Combines social history, women's history, medical history
Reviews & endorsements
"...a cogent analysis of the complicated and changing relationships among wet nurses...rich with fascinating details." Journal of Human LactationSee more reviews
"Janet Golden's history of wet nursing tells an important story....This book is well worth a close reading both for its contributions to the history of medicine and for its illustration of these tensions." Ellen S. More, Johns Hopkins University Press
"Overall, Golden's book is an enjoyable read. Her work provides a thoughtful and detailed discussion of the complexities involved in various wet nursing arrangements....Golden's book is useful for those who are interested in the historical regulation of women's bodies and lives, especially for those who want to learn more about the historical regulation of poor, single mothers." Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association
"One of the more interesting chapters in human history is that of the feeding of infants by breast or bottle [and] Golden has gone a long way in explaining this necessary aspect of human behavior in this well-written and fascinating book." Ray Browne, Journal of American Culture
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- Date Published: February 1996
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521495448
- length: 234 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 159 x 17 mm
- weight: 0.451kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Public discourse and private relations: wet nursing in Colonial America
2. The new motherhood and the new view of wet nurses, 1780–1865
3. Finding 'just the right kind of woman': the urban wet nurse marketplace, 1830–1900
4. 'Victims of distressing circumstances': the wet nurse labor force and the offspring of wet nurses, 1860–1910
5. Medical oversight and medical dilemmas: the physician and the wet nurse, 1870–1910
6. 'Obliged to have wet nurses': relations in the private household, 1870–1925
7. 'Therapeutic merchandise': human milk in the twentieth century
Epilogue. From commodity to gift.
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