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Arcane History: Better Baby Contests - Lynette M Burrows
If you read my post Inspiration on Location you know I discovered a unique institution. I researched the State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded near Lynchburg, Virginia. Synchronicity struck again. First, I learned about Carrie Buck (more on her later). Then I learned about the history of eugenics in the United States of America. Yes, you read that right. Eugenics, here. During my research, I learned about Better Baby contests. The competitions were part of a movement ’scientific motherhood’ to reduce infant mortality. Founder Mary de Garmo (1865-1953) was a former school teacher and social activist in Louisiana. In 1980, she formed the Mothers Union in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Mothers Union intended to improve child welfare. Her desire to improve children’s health was the reason she created the Better Baby contests. Better Baby Contests Begin De Garmo organized the first Better Baby contest. It was held at the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1908. She introduced the idea to Mary Watts who held the first contest in Iowa. The antagonist in my story mentions both of these women. Contestants Initially, contestants were ages 6 to 36 months. After 1914 boys and girls up to age five …