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CHICAGO FOUNDLINGS' HOME.
Waifs are taken from the police department or any person who finds a child. No distinction is made on account of race, color or creed. The work is not connected with or sustained by any church, and while religious instruction is given it does not favor any denomination. Many donations and gifts of money are made to the home, but it receives, no regular income. The city furnishes a free supply of water and Cook county buries the dead, and that is all either have ever done for the institution.
Since the home was started 1,631 children have been adopted
The officers of the home are: Board of Trustees : Wm. G.
The home also prints a paper, “Faith's Record,” devoted to its
The Foundlings' Home at 114 South Wood street, Chicago, with its commodious building and excellent equipment, represents forty years of struggle and toil on the part of its founder, Dr. George E. Shipman. After' trying for years to interest others in the work, Dr. Shipman started the home by renting a small frame house on Green street, near Madison street. The equipments were the most humble and a bushel basket filled with shavings sufficed for a cradle for the first inmate.
From a capital of $177.38 with which Dr. Shipman furnished the little frame house on Green street the institution has prospered until now with all its valuable possessions it is not responsible for a single mortgage or other obligation. The home owns a valuable piece of property, 105 by 48 feet in extent, and a comfortably furnished house of 80 rooms. The home authorities have not solicited a cent since the institution was started, and all funds which have been donated have been either from friends or through the solicitations of others.
There are now 38 children in the home and of this number only three are motherless babies. Three more are visiting babies whose parents cannot care for them at present and are also too poor to pay for their board. In such cases of need the home tides the family over until prosperity arrives.
Since the home was founded 7,353 infants have been received within its doors or through the window where the nameless mother could place the child she would not keep. Of this number 4,075 were motherless babies and almost without exception came into the home through the window. The remaining 3,278 were accompanied by their mothers, many of whom stayed to nurse their children. This proportion is actually larger than the figures show, for in the early years of the home's existence only the foundlings were registered and the names of the children brought by their mothers were unrecorded.
During the early days of the home trials and perplexities were many. It was not widely known through the city and had no wealthy clientele of friends on whom to call for support or financial assistance. But, strange as it may seem, other problems were more difficult of solution, and for a time graver menaces to the home's success.
The difficulty of securing proper assistants to care for the children was for a time almost insurmountable. The women employed to care for the children must not only be competent as nurses, but must have a sympathy with the work. But the most difficult problem and one fraught with grave results for the children was in regard to the kind of food best adapted to the stomach and health of such babies. Few persons realize the magnitude of this proposition. Those who have had the care of even three or four normal children cannot begin to approach it. The feeding of fifty or sixty motherless babies was a wholly different task. All of them began life under adverse circumstances, most of them were unhealthy or feeble and in many instances attempts had already been made on the baby's life before it came to the house. The advice of several physicians and experiments with different foods—which were surprisingly free from fatal results for the babies—finally solved this problem satisfactorily for all times.
Dr. Shipman was for many years family physician in the home of William A. Pinkerton. In this position he learned the need of a home for abandoned babies. Others did not grow enthusiastic over his schemes and on Jan. 30, 1871, he opened the house on Green street on his own responsibility. In May of the next year the home was incorporated. Citizens had realized the good work it was doing and among the incorporators was William G. Hibbard, who for many years has been president of the board of directors. The directors or trustees have absolute charge of all investments or financial affairs of the institution, but the actual management of the home is in charge of Mrs. Fannie E. Shipman, the widow of Dr. Shipman.
When the home was first opened there was a basket at the door in which a baby could be placed and the mother leave without disclosing her identity. The attention of the persons in the home would be called to the waif by a bell, and it would be taken in and cared for. Or the child would be taken from the mother's arms and she allowed to go without being questioned. One result of this practice was that the average mortality was 64 per cent of a in babies received. In 1883 it was decided to insist on the mothers remaining at the home and helping care for their children until they were adopted. From 1883 to 1890 the average mortality was 14.3 per cent. In 1900, it reached its lowest point, 772 per cent. In 1901 it was 15 per cent.
If the mother does not wish her baby to be adopted she must leave at the end of five weeks and take the child with her. The baby is then well started in life, having been properly nourished, and an opportunity is given for helping the mother in various ways. Special stress is laid upon the mother keeping her child and holding her responsible for its welfare, as such a course elevates the woman and brings out her best qualities. If she leaves the home with a good character she is welcome to return at any time (except in case of a second similar offense). She is thus given less excuse for a second offense.
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