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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Lying-In Hospital: 1908

Lying-In Hospital: 1908

New York circa 1908. "Lying-In Hospital, Second Avenue." A peek behind the scenes at the Lying-In (or maternity) hospital, which in addition to scalpels had a number of cutting-edge medical devices. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Heat and Serve

All of these bandages will probably be popped into the autoclave to be sterilized -- but I'd still feel better if they hadn't started out on the floor.

Plaster of Paris

Could she be putting dry plaster of Paris on those strips in order to later make casts from the soaked rolls?

Roll Your Own

Is that nurse rolling bandages from a pile of bandage stock on the floor? It looks like her hands and the floor have powder on them. Maybe it's sterilizing powder.

The first rule of rolling bandages

1. Make sure you throw the bandages on the floor before rolling them to ensure they stay sanitary !

Electric Rays

The Gamble House in Pasadena, CA is a historical house commissioned in 1908 [the year of this photo] as a winter residence by David Gamble, son of the co-founder of Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati. I am a docent there and tour visitors always remark about the low lighting intensity throughout the house. [Brief editorial ahem -- Procter, not Proctor.]

Although Edison's incandescent lamp predated the house by almost 30 years, there remained concern about the long-term negative effects of the eye's exposure to the so-called "electric rays." Clear glass bulbs - rated at a blazing 15 watts - are enclosed by frosted glass or by a beautiful, custom-designed art glass chandelier or sconce. That is, except in the kitchen - a staff area where the residents rarely ventured - where the same bulbs are unshielded and in direct view.

Thanks but no thanks

Talk abut sanitation! No wonder so many women had their babies at home.

Another Shorpy Lesson Learned

I was born (many) decades ago at Massachusetts Lying-In. I just learned this morning that the Lying-In part meant maternity.


Sterile floors make sterile bandages. Doh!

Rutherford Estates

The building at 17th street and Second avenue is now a condominium called Rutherford Estates at Stuyvesant Square. There is a plaque on the front that says that in 1902, 60 percent of the Manhattan children who were born in hospitals were birthed at Lying In.

You look a little flushed..

Just be glad that irrigation device is gravity fed and not hooked to a pressure pump.YEOW


There is absolutely nothing in this room that gives me comfort nor confidence. Had I been of birthing age, I think I would have remained the spinster aunt.

Oh, I get it... got one in the oven?

Great joke! She's actually making cannoli at the table (all the flour was a give-away) and he's about to fill the injector with ricotta cheese. Once I saw the cheesecake pan with an EZ-fill chute, on the lower shelf to his right, I knew. They've got some cleverly designed baking devices there.

TP Gone Bad

Can someone explain the tissue on the floor? Is she a nurse or a baker? It looks like she is carefully rolling the tissue up from off the floor in flour. With the park bench seating, this room makes me uncomfortable.

Now Weill Cornell

Two of my children were born there. Modes of childbirth have changed enormously since 1908. Today, there is a sharp division between those getting Caesarian sections, who experience NASA-like technology in a setting reminiscent of the one in this photo, and those having "natural" childbirth, for whom lots of monitors and beeping devices are provided, but in a setting that is much softer.

Sketchy Sanitation

I am stunned that the bandages she is rolling appear to all have been on the floor at some point.

High tech

At least there's plenty of light -- boy, is there plenty of light. How many bulbs are in that fixture? It looks like about twenty-five.

(But that, um, irrigation device scares me.)

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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