A desperate appeal to save the city’s sick babies

Gotham history …

Ephemeral New York

In 1911, a card went out to city residents asking for donations to help fund a precious commodity.

Over a thousand “little white hearses passed through the streets of New York City in two weeks last summer,” the card read. “One-eighth of the 123,433 little ones born during the year . . . died under 12 months.”

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One of the causes of this appalling infant mortality rate? A lack of access to clean, fresh milk among New York’s poorest families.

Milk in the 19th century had a deservedly bad reputation, with much of New York’s supply coming from “‘swill’ milk stables attached to breweries and distilleries in the city,” explains this post.

Milkcommitteepage2

“The cows in these stables ate the leftover grains from the fermentation process in the brewery or distillery. Unfortunately, the milk produced from these stables was very low quality and often full of bacteria. Even milk brought…

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