“Little Mothers” Write Playlets With Helpful Plots

The Little Mothers’ League was a club for girls in public school that taught them how to properly care for babies. Started in 1910 by Sara Josephine Baker, the idea wasn’t as much to prepare them to be parents themselves, but to give them the means to help their parents by taking care of their siblings. By teaching these kids, the Board of Health could get information about good habits and hygiene to parents who were too busy to seek out information themselves.

The article reprints several short plays that were written by members of the Little Mothers’ League to illustrate what they’ve learned. Here is one of them:

The first play was written by “E. K.” of Public School 22 and deals with the dangers following the common belief that a breath of fresh air will kill the baby.

Acted by two girls and a baby in a dark, uncomfortable room, with the windows shut up as tightly as possible.

Miss Smith — (Coming into Mrs. Jones’s, as usual.) — Good morning, Mrs. Jones. Why does your baby cry so heartily?

Mrs. Jones, (somewhat terrified,) — She seems to have some fever, and I do not know what to do to her.

Miss Smith — Well, why do you not go to see a doctor about it? (Looking at the windows and at the baby’s wrappings.) I know what it is. She feels too warm. You need to open the windows and take some of her wrappings off her. Then you will see how more comfortable she will feel, and she will also begin to play around on the floor.

Mrs. Jones, (takes some of the wrappings off the baby and opens the windows. Then, seeing how the baby stops crying and beings to play around on the floor, she says) — Miss Smith, I thank you very much for your kind advice, and I would like to know where you have learned all of these useful things.

Miss Smith — (Showing her badge to Mrs. Jones,) — Why, Mrs. Jones, I am a member of the Little Mothers’ League, and this is where I learn all of these very useful things.

The other plays printed in the article teach “the horrors of grocery milk”, that you should listen to your doctor instead of your neighbors, and that pineapple is not good food for babies:

Mother — Baby wants something to eat.

Child — (Mother) What?

Mother — I guess a piece of pineapple.

Child — Mother, what, pineapple for a baby?

Mother — What’s the matter?

Child — You do not mean pineapple for a baby, do you?

Mother — Yes, I think baby will like a piece very much.

Child — No matter if the baby will like it or not it is not healthy for babies.

Mother — Who told you that?

Child — I belong to Little Mothers’ League. They teach us how babies ought to be kept.

Mother — You did not tell me that. I would have stopped giving it to the baby a long time ago.

This should really be an Off Broadway production.

“LITTLE MOTHERS” WRITE PLAYLETS WITH HELPFUL PLOTS: The Authors Are Only Twelve Years Old but They Have Grown Up Ideas About Keeping Babies Well (PDF)

From July 10, 1910

2 responses to ““Little Mothers” Write Playlets With Helpful Plots”

  1. I noticed the photo credit listed a female, which seemed remarkable for its day. Indeed, Jessie Tarbox Beals was the first woman hired as a staff photographer at a U.S. newspaper: http://www.biography.com/articles/Jessie-Tarbox–215062


  2. Actually pineapple can cause diahrrea in babies, so yeah mother – no pineapple for the baby!
    I like that they included the instructor’s comment at the end; the children take these lessons very seriously. They probably did prevent illness and maybe even death in the tenements by providing child-health education to these youths. We could benefit from a program nowadays.


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