Hygienism, Disease Etiology, and the “Social Question:” Protecting Infant Health in the French Crèche, 1844-1898 Open Access

Shapiro, Rachel (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/4t64gn18r?locale=en
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Abstract

This thesis examines the rise of the crèche—a type of day nursery for infants—in France between 1846 and 1898. Through a study of the Bulletin de la Société des Crèches, the longstanding journal associated with the crèches, and an examination of medical reports, laws, and writing on regulation, it places the expansion of this institution within broader conversations on disease etiology, class, and public health.

 

This work contains two key chapters: “‘Indispensable Conditions:’ Ensuring Health in the Crèche” and “‘The Crèche is Not a Hospital:’ Poverty, Disease, and the Limits of Public Health.” It argues that mechanisms to limit disease and improve health within the crèche were shaped by contemporaries’ understanding of disease, public health, and approaches to address France’s “social question.” While the rise of hygienism leant to the crèche movement an optimism about the ability of this new institution to reduce infant mortality and morbidity, a closer examination of reformers’ attempts to promote health in the crèche demonstrate a simultaneous anxiety about its ability to fully control, contain, and neutralize disease, especially in a context of widespread urban poverty. This uncertainty reflects the wider limits of the nineteenth-century public health movement. 

Table of Contents

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………...1

“Indispensable Conditions:” Ensuring Health in the Crèche……………………………………...............9

“The Crèche is Not a Hospital:” Poverty, Disease, and the Limits of Public Health……………..............49

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………..............86

Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………...............92

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