On 2nd Avenue, Golden Gate Park in the background, 1933
San Francisco Department of Public Health, Child Welfare Bureau, 1932
Responding to the deepening financial depression in 1930, President Herbert Hoover looked to the American Association of Public Welfare Officials (later the American Public Welfare Association) to assist in the formation of public relief programs in states, counties, and cities. Additionally, it was recognized that some people had needs for particular services in place of or beyond cash support. To this end, small grants for states were authorized to meet these needs, including “Maternal and Child Health.” [Source: http://www.socialwelfarehistory.com/programs/public-welfare/]
Baby’s Sun Bath and Other Do’s and Don’ts
The printed booklet includes “Suggestions for Habit Training,” with the advice that: “Only REGULARITY and CONSTANT REPETITION of suitable items, in a quiet and friendly atmosphere, can bring you results.” In addition, there are the sound words for mothers to “Keep yourself well, take rest periods, and get enough relaxation through occasional recreation.” And there is this interesting admonishment:
The baby is not a plaything to be handled, jiggled, rocked, or showed off to friends and relatives; never walk the floor with him. He has some rights and quiet is one.
Notably, it is prominently commanded that “Baby should have his sun bath every day,” with the sun’s rays directly on his skin. This should begin with one minute a day, increasing an additional minute “until baby is getting thirty to forty-five minutes of direct sunshine daily.” It is a reminder that rickets, due to a lack of vitamin D, was a common affliction and a serious concern leading up to and during the Depression.
Advice and Recipes
On the cover of the booklet my grandmother wrote “Emporium” as the location entry for the “Center.” This could only be the large Emporium Department Store on Market Street, which is odd, though there must have been an area set aside for this public purpose. I can’t be sure, but it appears that the baby’s weight and size has been logged monthly throughout the year by another hand, with notes of advice transcribed by my grandmother.
The notes are mostly concerned with feeding, as well as indicating vaccination days. She also pasted in typescript baby food recipes indicated as being from the “S.F. Dept. of Public Health.” Could she have typed these up as advised, or would these have been given to her at the Child Welfare Bureau Center?
The cover says "Always Bring This Book." A nurse herself during WWI in France, and for a time after in California—it appears my grandmother diligently took the baby in for his “well baby” checks. At this period the family was living on 2nd Avenue in the Inner Sunset District, about a block from Golden Gate Park. My grandmother wasn’t on her own, but through the thirties (and beyond) my grandfather was often away for extended periods to work for a fish/feed processing company—as attested to by stacks and stacks of sometimes melancholy letters on hotel stationery.
But back on 2nd Avenue in 1932-33, baby’s schedule set the pace and tone of life. Sun bath advice was duly followed; there are numerous photos of the baby beside an open window, or on the back porch of the flat. In his cozy basket, which seems to be hooked and rigged up to the railing for the purpose, he kicks up his legs in the sunshine.
2nd Avenue back porch, San Francisco, October 1932