[Skip to Navigation]
July 1976

Health and Welfare of Colonial American Children

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Maternal and Child Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.

Am J Dis Child. 1976;130(7):694-701. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1976.02120080016002

Colonial American children were born into a world that presented many hazards to their health and survival. Scientific knowledge and social organization could offer little protection against illness and injury. Physicians were few and only a small number had had formal training. Midwives, too, were mostly untrained. Books providing information on child care and feeding were few until the 18th century, when they began to be imported, reprinted, or published in the colonies. They were available to the minority of literate parents and to others of education and means, and through them, to some extent, child care advice was interpreted to the poor and illiterate. Differences of environment and experience of children during the colonial period depended on the time and place of settlement and the wealth and station in life of their families.

In the early settlements of Europeans in the colonies, many of the children faced harsh conditions

Add or change institution