Document 4: "Maternity Protection," Bulletin, Women's City Club of New York, 1 (November 1917), p. 2, WCCNY Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Hunter College, New York, N.Y. (WCCNY microfilm, reel 17, frame 27).

Introduction

       Reports by the Maternity Protection Committee, regularly printed in the Bulletin, justified the club's expenditures on the Maternity Center. To help with that justification, Julia Lathrop, head of the U.S. Children's Bureau, and one of the leading women reformers of the Progressive era, spoke at the club in 1917.

MATERNITY PROTECTION

       "Just what is this maternity work of the Club?" Many members have asked it and since it is the one big thing the Club is doing every member is justified in desiring to know more about it. Bulletin notes and special talks have not yet reached everyone. But at the Club Luncheon on Saturday, December 1, every member will have an opportunity, not only to learn details of our own work but also to learn of the world-wide movement for better maternity care. Miss Julia Lathrop, Chief of the Federal Children's Bureau, will be the main speaker. Miss Goodrich, the chairman or our committee, and others will speak. If the following story interests you, you will not want to miss this luncheon.

       "It seems like I just learn to live," said little Italian Petito to a nurse from our Center. Penniless, without family or home, and with no experience except of life in an Institution, Petito stepped out into the world at the age of fourteen and was married. There was nothing else to do, and her conception of the arrangement was that she could cook and make home--and there-by share that longed for possession. Petito had never gone to market nor threaded a needle, and marriage brought her many strange new experiences, including motherhood.

       Now she is seventeen, and last week her third baby came. Early in the days of our Center the nurse found her, in a room turned upside down, suffering from severe kidney trouble. She could not be moved, and if the condition remained convulsions would result, seriously endangering her life as well as the life of the baby. Nothing was ready for the baby so the nurse set her at work on preparing clothes. She was given medical attention and instructions as to physical care. Every instruction was painstakingly carried out, every lesson hungrily learned, and Petito firmly believes the nurse is a visiting angel. Her kidney trouble has disappeared and she is actually "learning to live." Moreover, she is learning to preserve the life of the baby who was born to her--healthy.

       If we are serious about the Women's City Club should we not make an effort to become familiar with its work? And as citizens should we not become well enough informed to demand and later secure municipal maternity care as the women of England have successfully done? Remember the date of the Luncheon, December 1st, and come.

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