History of children's services in the Western Region : regulating Footscray mothers - the Tweddle Baby Hospital and the Plunket System

Codognotto, Kathleen and Tyler, Deborah (1992) History of children's services in the Western Region : regulating Footscray mothers - the Tweddle Baby Hospital and the Plunket System. Crow Collection Association.


From the latter part of the nineteenth century until the 1950' the western world, including Australia, was preoccupied with the size, composition and health of each nation's population. The common problems were a falling birth-rate and an alarmingly high infant mortality rate. In underpopulated Australia there was an additional perceived threat: of being overrun, in the language of the time, by the prolific breeding Asians nearby. From the 1890' to the 1930' this population ideology gave rise to the growth of 'experts' in various fields of public health who sought to exercise a rational control over all aspects of family life, and women's lives in particular. The construction of modern Australian femininity was directly influenced by population ideology and its campaigns: for public health, infant welfare, social purity, [1] education, child welfare and protective labour laws. The focus of population ideology was the family. The focus of reform, and central to the family, 'was woman, defined as the ideal mother' or 'the good mother'. At its height, during the 1920' and 1930', population ideology became part of commonsense, part of everyday know [2]. This paper focuses on what occurred in the area of infant welfare and education for motherhood in Victoria and is based on the role played by Tweddle Hospital, (situated on the corner of Gordon St and Barkly St in Footscray), in promulgating the ideal of the 'good mother'.

Additional Information

The paper is collected as part of a Crow Collection Living Library Project based at the library of the Victoria University of Technology (Footscray). The Kit of Project Materials is also catalogued as CROW COLL 362.7099451 HIS. The complete kit comprises 12 booklets, a video, photographs and project documents, the result of a nine months Living Library Project on the History of Children's Services in the Western Region by the Crow Collection Association.

Item type Other
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/16153
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1607 Social Work
Current > Collections > Crow Papers
Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Keywords Tweddle Baby Hospital, Plunket System, Footscray, children's services, Reichstein Foundation, 1950's, Australian population, 1890, 1930's, public health, infant welfare, social purity, education, child welfare, labour laws, family, motherhood, population ideology, infant welfare, Footscray, Kerreen Reiger, Valarie Fields, Barbara Ehrenreich, Deidre English, Jane E. Lewis, Jill Julius Matthews, Janet McCalman, mothering, Truby King, Footscray Infant Welfare Centre, Society for the Health of Women and Children, pregnancy, breastfeeding, Plunket system, Maude Primrose, Australian Visiting Trained Nurses' Association, Public Health Act 1867, Maribyrnong River, maternal practices, mothercraft nurse, infant care, Lady Plunket, School of Mothercraft, "A Living Library Project", Living Libraries Project, booklet 9, CROW-BOX14-17-11-DOC10
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