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July 1991

The H. L. Mencken Baby Book

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics University of Arizona College of Medicine 1501 N Campbell Tucson, AZ 85724


By Howard Markel and Frank A. Oski, 194 pp, $20, Philadelphia, Pa, Hanley and Belfus Inc, 1990.

Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(7):817. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160070113032

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


How's that again? A baby book by H. L. Mencken, the great Baltimore, Md, curmudgeon? An oxymoron for sure!

Amazing? Apparently not. In the summer of 1907, a physician, a magazine editor, and a reporter in Baltimore (Mencken) joined forces to prepare a series of magazine articles that culminated in a book entitled, What You Ought to Know about Your Baby (Butterick, 1910). The current volume, revised and updated, was prepared by Howard Markel, a pediatric intern in 1986 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, and a Mencken aficionado, and Frank Oski, the chairman of Pediatrics at The Johns Hopkins University Medical School. The authors review the collaboration of Mencken, Leonard Hershberg (the physician), and Theodore Dreiser (the magazine editor), and include a complete reproduction of the original text.

Both parts of the book are fascinating. Chapters discuss the newborn, nursing, bottle feeding, milk, food for growing children, schooling, and

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