Sauvons les Bébés: Child Health and U.S. Humanitarian Aid in the First World War Era

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2012


child health, humanitarian aid, World War I, American Red Cross, U.S. foreign relations, pronatalism, international health reforms

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



From 1917 to 1923, the American Red Cross organized an array of long-term child health projects in Europe as part of its larger wartime and post-war humanitarian efforts. Across the continent, the organization established child health clinics, better baby shows, playgrounds, fresh air camps, and courses for women on infant and child hygiene. Hundreds of U.S. doctors, nurses, and other child welfare professionals traveled to Europe to administer these programs. These activities call attention to American efforts to reform the health of European youth and, in so doing, to reshape European medicine and European society more broadly. Moreover, they suggest the importance of child-centered medical relief—and the history of medicine more broadly—to the history of U.S. foreign relations.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Bulletin of the History of Medicine, v. 86, issue 1, p. 37-65