The great efflorescence of concern over infant mortality occurred very late in the nineteenth century, when it became apparent that the rate had not declined in any way comparable to the general death rate. This led to the rise of an activist infant and maternal welfare movement, with a vast number of publications on the subject appearing during the early twentieth century.

Primary Sources

Annual report of the Registrar General of Births - Deaths - Marriages in England and Wales; The Registrar-General's Statistical Review. [Gives general statistics. George Newman, see below, suggested that failure to register the deaths of infants dying very shortly postpartum meant numbers were in fact underreported.]

Baines, Mary Anne. Excessive Infant-Mortality: How Can It Be Stayed?: A Paper Contributed to the National Social Science Association, London meeting: To Which is Added a Short Paper, Reprinted from the Lancet, on Infant-Alimentation, or Artificial Feeding, as a Substitute for Breast-Milk, Considered in Its Physical and Social Aspects. London: John Churchill and Sons, [1862].

Dr. Ballard's Report upon the Sanitary Condition of the Registration District of Bolton, Lancashire, and Particularly upon Its High Infant Mortality. Local Government Board, 1872.

Blagg, Helen M. Statistical Analysis of Infant Mortality and Its Causes in the United Kingdom. London: P. S. King and Son, 1910. [Includes useful statistical tables from the mid-Victorian period.]

The British Medical Journal.

Collins, Robert. To Professor Simpson, of Edinburgh, in Reply to His Letter to Dr. Collins, on the "Duration of Labour as a Cause of Mortality and Danger to Mother and Infant": Second Letter. Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1848.

Curgenven, J. Brendon. On Baby-farming and the Registration of Nurses. London: W. Wilfred Head, 1869.

Duncan, J. Matthews. On the Mortality of Childbed and Maternity Hospitals. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1870.

The Lancet.

London’s Pulse: Medical Officer of Health Reports 1848-1972 [Reports for all London districts digitised and made searchable: an amazingly rich resource. Reports for districts in the rest of England and Wales may be found at Wellcome or in the relevant local repositories. Many are digitally available: search by "Medical Officer of Health" and name of district. For Scotland, see Medical Officer Health Reports.]

Medical Officer of Health reports, from 1848. Liverpool 1847. [The reports produced each year by the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) of a district and setting out the work done by his public health and sanitary officers. The reports provided vital data on birth and death rates, infant mortality, incidence of infectious and other diseases, and a general statement on the health of the population.]

Moore, William. On Infantile Mortality, and the Establishment of Hospitals for Sick Children: Read before the Dublin Obstetrical Society, January 8th, 1859. Dublin: Fannin, 1859.

Newman, George. Infant Mortality: A Social Problem. London: Methuen, 1906.

Nicholls, Sir George. Inquiry into the Treatment, Condition and Mortality of Infant Children in the Workhouse of the North Dublin Union. Dublin: Alexander Thom, 1842.

Phelan, Denis. Observations on the Comparative Advantages of Affording Obstetric Attendance on Poor Woman in Lying-in Hospitals. Reprinted from the Dublin Quarterly Journal of Medical Science, February, 1867. Dublin: J. Falconer, 1867.

Routh, C.H.F. Infant Feeding and Its Influence on Life: or, The Causes and Prevention of Infant Mortality. London : John Churchill, 1860. [Several subsequent editions were published over the next decades.]

Royal College of Surgeons of England. Infant Mortality: Its Causes and Remedies. Manchester: A. Ireland, 1871

Rules for the General Management of Infants: Recommended by the Obstetrical Society of London. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1875. [The 1885 edition is also available.]

Simpson, James Young. On the Duration of Labour as a Cause of Mortality and Danger to the Mother and Infant; &c: in reply to a letter of Dr. Collins. Extracted from the Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal for Nov. 1, 1848. Edinburgh: Sutherland and Knox, 1848.

Trench, William Stewart. A paper on excessive infant mortality, its causes and their removal: read at the eighth annual meeting of the National Association, for the Promotion of Social Science, held at York, September, 1864. Liverpool: Henry Greenwood, 1864.

Secondary Sources: General Studies of Victorian Public Health

Hardy, Anne. The Epidemic Streets: Infectious Disease and the Rise of Preventive Medicine, 1856-1900. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Smith, F. B. The People’s Health, 1830-1910. London: Croom Helm, 1979.

Wohl, Anthony S. Endangered Lives: Public Health in Victorian Britain. London: Dent, 1983.

Secondary Sources: Infant Mortality

Clark, Ann. "How Healthy was Hollingbourne?: The History, Politics and Demography of Infant Mortality in a 'Healthy' District in Rural Kent, 1876-88." PhD diss., Open University, 2007.

Dwork, Deborah. War is Good for Babies and Other Young Children: A History of the Infant and Child Welfare Movement in England, 1898-1918. London: Tavistock Publications, 1987.

Holloway, Kate. "Infant Mortality in Erith, 1894-1930." Bygone Kent 16 (1995): 231-7.

Lomax, Elizabeth Raine. "Advances in Pediatrics and in Infant Care in Nineteenth Century England." PhD diss., University of California at Los Angeles, 1972.

McIntosh, Tania. "‘A Price Must Be Paid for Motherhood’: The Experience of Maternity in Sheffield, 1879-1939." PhD diss., University of Sheffield, 1997.

Marks, Lara V. Model Mothers: Jewish Mothers and Maternity Provision in East London, 1870-1939. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Shelton, Nicola Jane. "Childhood Mortality and the Public Health Response in Victorian and Edwardian Devon and Cornwall." PhD diss., University of Liverpool, 2000.

Thompson, Barbara. "Infant Mortality in Nineteenth Century Bradford." In Urban Disease and Mortality in Nineteenth Century England. Eds. Robert Woods and John Woodward. London: Batsford Academic and Educational Ltd, 1984: 120-147.

Secondary Sources: Infanticide

Behlmer. George K. "Deadly Motherhood: Infanticide and Medical Opinion in Mid-Victorian England," Journal of the History of Medicine 34 (1979): 403–27.

Farrell, Elaine. "A Most Diabolical Deed": Infanticide and Irish society, 1850-1900. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013.

Goc, Nicola. Women, Infanticide, and the Press, 1822-1922: News Narratives in England and Australia. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2013.

Grey, Daniel. "‘Almost Unknown Amongst the Jews’: Jewish Women and Infanticide in London 1890–1918." The London Journal 37 (2012): 122-135.

____. "‘What Woman is Safe...?’: Coerced Medical Examinations, Suspected Infanticide, and the Response of the Women’s Movement in Britain, 1871-1881." Women's History Review 22 (2013): 403-421.

____. "‘Liable to Very Gross Abuse’: Murder, Moral Panic and Cultural Fears over Infant Life Insurance, 1875–1914." Journal of Victorian Culture 18 (2013): 54-71.

____."‘The Agony of Despair’: Pain and the Cultural Script of Infanticide in England and Wales, 1860–1960." In Pain and Emotion in Modern History. Ed. R. Boddice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 204-219.

____."Parenting, Infanticide and the State in England and Wales, 1870–1950." In Parenting and the State in Britain and Europe, c. 1870-1950: Raising the Nation. Eds. H. Barron & C. Siebrecht. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017: 73-92.

____."‘No Crime to Kill a Bastard–Child’: Stereotypes of Infanticide in Nineteenth-Century England and Wales." In Intersections of Gender, Class, and Race in the Long Nineteenth Century and Beyond. Ed. B. Leonardi. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018: 41-66.

Higginbotham, Ann R. "‘Sin of the Age’: Infanticide and Illegitimacy in Victorian London," Victorian Studies 32 (1989): 319–37.

Jackson, Mark, ed. Infanticide: Historical Perspectives on Child Murder and Concealment, 1550-2000. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002.

Krueger, Christine L. "Literary Defences and Medical Prosecutions: Representing Infanticide in Nineteenth-Century Britain." Victorian Studies 40 (1997): 271–94.

McDonagh, Josephine. Child Murder and British Culture, 1720-1900. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Rattigan, Clíona. What Else Could I Do?: Single Mothers and Infanticide, Ireland 1900-1950. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2012.

Watson, Katherine D. Medicine and Justice: Medico-Legal Practice in England and Wales, 1700-1914. London: Routledge, 2020.

Secondary Sources: Emotional Responses to Infant Death

Lerner, Laurence. Angels and Absences: Child Deaths in the Nineteenth Century. Nashville TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1997. [Mostly looking at literature.]

Strange, Julie-Marie. Death, Grief and Poverty in Britain, 1870-1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. [Includes familial response to the death of children.]


Created 14 February 2022