MP-1973.1.7 | Nurses, cribs, and baby trolley, Montreal Maternity Hospital, Montreal, QC, 1925-26

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Nurses, cribs, and baby trolley, Montreal Maternity Hospital, Montreal, QC, 1925-26
1925-1926, 20th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Gelatin silver process
19 x 24 cm
Gift of Miss Caroline Barrett
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , medical (125) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

Around 1900, most babies were born at home under the care of a midwife or doctor. As the 20th century progressed, however, rapid advances in modern medicine and the advent of sophisticated scientific and technical equipment in hospitals brought about a medicalization of many aspects of what had hitherto been part of private life, including giving birth, motherhood and child development. Mothers were urged to follow the advice of medical experts -- nurses and doctors -- whose job it was to look after the development of their children. These experts touted the benefits of regular visits to an infant care clinic, where children were examined, weighed and vaccinated. Doctors stressed that it was safer for women to give birth in a modern hospital, where the chances of survival of both mother and baby were higher. As a result, an increasing number of women decided to give birth in a hospital, and by the 1960s it had become rare for a woman to give birth at home.

  • What

    This picture shows nurses holding newborns next to a baby trolley. The walls are lined with cribs.

  • Where

    The Montreal Maternity Hospital was initially located downtown on St. Urbain Street.

  • When

    The Montreal Maternity Hospital was founded in 1843. In 1923 it became part of the Royal Victoria Hospital and was moved to a new building on Mount Royal, opening on June 1, 1926.

  • Who

    With the development of hospitals in the early part of the 20th century, nursing schools were founded to meet the new demand for trained medical staff. Lay nurses then began working in health care institutions that had formerly been run by nuns.