Mrs. J. D. Miller's children, Montreal, QC, 1890
Wm. Notman & Son
1890, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
12 x 17 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords: family (800) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
Keys to History
As child health care became increasingly medicalized in the 20th century, more and more importance was gradually given to the physical development of young children. Beginning at the start of the century, low-birth-weight babies were the focus of special attention because they were known to have less resistance to disease. When mothers visited milk stations, or Gouttes de lait -- dispensaries for pure, safe milk, that also provided health care services for infants -- the systematic measuring and weighing of their babies was an integral part of the visit. In 1906 the City of Montreal set up a medical inspection service responsible for its schools. During these inspections, doctors would note the sanitary conditions in the schools, examine the pupils and record their height and weight.
This photograph shows four siblings standing in order of height. At the turn of the century, all children under the age of four, boys and girls alike, wore a white dress.
This picture was taken at William Notman's photography studio on Bleury Street in Montreal.
The authors of The Canadian Mother's Book, published in 1930, urged mothers to have a baby scale at home and to weigh their infant every day during its first month and then regularly once a week thereafter, on the same day of the week, at the same time and in the same clothes.
In 1910, sixteen doctors examined 175,000 pupils in Montreal schools over the course of the year. They reported that 55% of them were healthy. The chief medical reasons for being sent home were, in descending order, head lice, measles, skin conditions such as impetigo, and chicken pox.