We've completed another round of digitization, this time focusing on two historic hospitals that played key roles in providing maternal health services in New York City.
Previously, we digitized the annual reports of the Society of the Lying-In Hospital of the City of New-York for the years 1890-1931. Now available are the annual reports from 1932-1950, a pivotal time for the hospital. In 1932, the Society of the Lying-In Hospital of the City of New-York became affiliated with the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center (now NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center), forming the Hospital's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 1947, the Lying-In Hospital legally merged with New York Hospital. The history of the Society of the Lying-In Hospital of the City of New-York dates back to October 1798 when Dr. David Hosack issued an appeal to establish the Lying-In Hospital for poor women who could not afford medical care and nursing during their pregnancy. It was opened in August 1799 at 2 Cedar Street.
In 1801, the board of the hospital made an agreement with the board of the New York Hospital to operate a lying-in ward at the New York Hospital. Both poor and paying mothers were accepted there. This arrangement lasted until 1822. The ward was closed on June 1822 and then reopened in May 1823. They parted ways in 1827. For many years the Lying-In Hospital did not have a building. In 1887, various dispensaries were operated around New York. John Pierpont Morgan became interested in the hospital in 1893. In May 1894, the hospital purchased the Hamilton Fish Mansion on Second Avenue and 17th street. It opened in November 1894 with 32 beds. Morgan gave money to build a new hospital in 1899. The Hamilton Fish Mansion was torn down and the new hospital was erected on the site. It opened on January 22, 1902. The hospital was primarily a maternity hospital but a small gynecological service performing surgeries was also available. The Lying-in-Hospital's board made an agreement with the New York Hospital on June 19, 1928 to be absorbed by the New York Hospital and become the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at the new medical center. Below is an exterior view of the Lying-In Hospital building that opened in 1902. Today, the building, located on 2nd Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets, still looks pretty much the same as it did in 1902.
Also digitized are the annual reports of the New-York Asylum for Lying-In Women. The Asylum was founded in 1823 to provide care for "destitute respectable women in confinement." It shared in the operation of a ward at New York Hospital until its withdrawal in 1825 to separate facilities on Greene Street. In 1830, the institution moved to 85 Marion Street, known then as Orange Street, where it remained until its move in 1885 to 139 Second Avenue.
While the Asylum did not discriminate on the basis of religion or national origin, it was very strict in its requirement of "respectability." Patients were referred to the Asylum by district physicians, scattered through the city, and were screened for admission by the Board of Managers on the basis of proof of marriage and character references. Those whose characters were not "perfectly unexceptionable" were rejected. As the board said in its 1831 annual report, "to throw the institution open to all...would confine its operation to the vicious alone. For how could the virtuous, married women...willingly become the associate and fellow-pensioner of the degraded and abandoned?" The "vicious" could, however, receive care at home after the establishment of the Outdoor Department in 1831: "respectability" was not a requirement there.
In 1894, the Asylum changed its name to Old Marion Street Maternity Hospital. It continued operating until it merged in 1899 with New York Infant Asylum, taking the latter's name and more enlightened admission policies. New York Infant Asylum joined with Nursery and Child's Hospital in 1910 to form New York Nursery and Child's Hospital, which became a part of New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in 1934.
The annual reports include lists of officers, governors, committees, and medical staff, medical reports, reports on nursing services and activities, hospital and medical statistics, donor and donation lists, and bylaws. Entire volumes can be easily searched by keywords. Our digital collections are available online on the Internet Archive. The digitization was made possible from a Digital Conversion MicroGrant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).