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The Baby Box: 1942

The Baby Box: 1942

November 1942. "Babies' Hospital, New York. Care of prematurely born babies is one of the most complicated procedures which must be learned by the student nurse. Feeding, bathing and diaper changing are carried on inside the incubator, in which temperature, humidity and oxygen must be carefully regulated. The oxygen tank can be seen in the background." Photo by Fritz Henle. View full size.


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Babes In Arms

Babies' Hospital, founded 1887, was originally at Lexington Avenue and 55th Street here in Manhattan. It is now part of the New York-Presbyterian Medical Center located uptown in the Washington Heights section. Now known as the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and is affiliated with the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Still going strong after 125 years. Attached is a photo of the original building ca 1902.

Bring your own cold drinks

In this case, I suspect that the soda lime is used a carbon dioxide absorber which makes me think that they might be recirculating the oxygen / air mixture within the incubator. Note the wet bulb and dry bulb thermometers which make it possible to calculate the relative humidity. Today there would be a lot more instrumentation and a lot less incubator.

Soda Lime

The soda lime could be part of a respirometer, but most likely it is there to absorb carbon dioxide; the incubator appears to be a sealed unit, so something is required to extract excess C02 fro the air.

Meat Locker

Way back when my local butcher had those same fancy hinges and latches on several icebox doors behind the counter. I always admired the quality. Whoever built this device must have been familiar with icebox hardware. The hospital morgue probably had matching latches. Ab incunabulis ad mortem all under one roof.


The label on the bottom right of the photo intrigues me. Do you get a 7-Up when you press it or is it that nasty old Shasta stuff they usually give you in hospitals?

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