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A Social History of Wet Nursing in America

A Social History of Wet Nursing in America
From Breast to Bottle


Part of Cambridge Studies in the History of Medicine

  • Date Published: May 1996
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521495448

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About the Authors
  • A Social History of Wet Nursing in the United States: 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 medicalised, 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.

    • 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
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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 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.

  • Author

    Janet Golden, Rutgers University, New Jersey

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