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Women's History Month

Spotlighting Women's Achievements in Maternal and Child Health

Martha May Eliot M.D.

Martha May EliotMartha May Eliot M.D. (1891-1978) is considered among the founders of the Maternal and Child Health field. She graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1918, and went on to hold a variety of highly influential national and international public service positions including Chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau (an early iteration of the HRSA MCHB).



Julia Lathrop, Social Worker

Julia Lathrop, credit: Kay Johnson

Julia Lathrop was a social worker and the first chief of Children’s Bureau. Lathrop said: “The theory on which the [Children’s] Bureau was created [was] that if the Government can investigate and report, the conscience and power of local communities can be depended upon for local action.”

She created the plan for the Sheppard-Towner Act that led to the Title V program and had her bill sponsored in 1918 by the nation’s first Congresswoman, Jeannette Rankin of Montana.

Josephine Baker, M.D.

Josephine Baker M.D.Dr. Josephine Baker was the first Chief of the MCH Bureau of Child Hygiene (later Bureau of Child Health) in the New York City Health Department from 1908-1923.

In 1912, she pointed to prematurity as a problem with social economic, medical and hygenic dimensions. Baker said, "[Neonatal mortality is] not a medical problem, but in a larger sense a social problem."

More Maternal and Child Health history: MCH History Timeline and MCH History Slides/Video (PPT - 68 MB)*


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