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Nursery and Child's Hospital Records

Call Number

MS 443.20


1854-1934 (Bulk 1880-1920), inclusive


Nursery and Child's Hospital (New York, N.Y.)


2 Linear feet (5 Boxes)

Language of Materials

Nursery and Child's Hospital Records are written in English.


The Nursery and Child's Hospital was founded by Mrs. Cornelius DuBois in 1854 as a charity that provided a nursery for the children of wet nurses. The charity was expanded into a hospital and school for children. The collection is the administration records of the Hospital from the office of First Director, especially from Mary Mildred Sullivan and her son George H. Sullivan. Mary Mildred Sullivan was the director of the Hospital (1888-1933) and organizer of the charity balls (1857-1933). George Sullivan took over his mother's position after her death in 1933.

Historical Note

The Nursery and Child's Hospital was founded on May 2, 1854 by Mrs. Cornelius DuBois. The original name of the organization was The Nursery for the Children of the Poor Women. The Hospital started out as a nursery for wet nurses to leave their children while they worked. At the time, children of wet nurses were dying because of lack of food and care. The charity wanted to reduce the death rate among wet nurses' children. The location for the Nursery was the corner of 15th Street and 6th Avenue. Once the charity started, it became clear that a hospital was needed to take care of the children and their mothers. In 1857, the charity created a hospital for children located at 51st street and Lexington Avenue. The Hospital was the first hospital in the United States of America to treat children under the age of 12. On March 6, 1857, the charity changed it name to the Nursery and Child's Hospital. Over the years the Hospital would expand, offering more and more care to the children of the poor in New York City and the surrounding area.

The Hospital ran largely on donations and state funds. In 1858, wet nurses were charged $5 per child a month to leave their children at the Hospital. The children received boarding, food, an education and medical care from the Hospital. Patients of the Hospital were charged $6 a month. If a pregnant woman could not pay for staying at the Hospital she had to wet nurse another child beside her own for 3 months after birth. If the woman's own child died, she had to wet nurse 2 children. Women hired to be wet nurses at the Hospital were paid $5 a month and received food, medical care, and an education for her and her child. People could hire a wet nurse from the Hospital at a premium of $5. The Hospital charged so little for services that it was necessary to obtain funding from elsewhere. State and federal grants and donations were needed to cover operating cost. The Hospital's largest donation drive was its Annual Charity Ball that started in 1856 and would continue until it closed. The Annual Charity Ball would raise anywhere from five to fifteen thousand dollars a year.

From the beginning the Nursery and Child's Hospital had to deal with children being abandoned at the Hospital. Children were considered to be an orphan, if their parents did not pay for them for a week or they were left at the Hospital. Thus, a foundling home was needed at the Hospital. People could adopt children from the Hospital, but it was done between the parents and the adopting family or another charity and the adopting family. The Nursery and Child's Hospital would take care of children up to the age of 12. Children that were over the age of 12 were sent back to their parents or to other charities based on their parents' faith. Many of the children ended up at the Children's Aid Society and on the orphan trains.

The Nursery and Child's Hospital adhered to Christian standards. Church services occurred every Sunday with clergymen from different denominations leading the service, and there was, also, a bible study once a week. Originally, the founders of the Hospital only wanted to serve women who were married, but it soon became clear that the services were needed by unmarried women who were pregnant or "women who were in sin." Eventually, the Hospital allowed women who were unmarried and pregnant to stay at the Hospital. These women had to learn domestic skills and go to church while at the Hospital. Only the women who complied with all of Hospital's rules were considered "cleaned", no longer living in sin and fit to go back into society. The Hospital did its best to try to marry the unmarried women or employ them somewhere so that they could raise a family. Women who were pregnant for a second time that came to the Hospital were refused and sent to other charities or to families that churches had paid to take in pregnant women.

The Nursery and Child's Hospital had a lot of support from many different charities and societies in New York City. Some of the charities and societies working with the Nursery and Child's Hospitals were the Children's Aid Society, St. Thomas Helping Hand's Society, St. Thomas Church, Harlem's Relief, Holy Communion, All Soul's Employment Society, Hand in Hand, Women's Loyal League, Church Benevolent Society, Charity Organization Society, St. George's Employment Society, Brick Church Employment Society, Friend's Employment Society, Madison Avenue Reformed Church, Manhattan Trade School, Doe Ye Nexte Thynge Society, Christ Church Employment Society, and Tenten Sewing Class for the Nursery and Child's Hospital. The Nursery and Child's Hospital was, also, involved with the New York City community. During the Civil War the 51st street and Lexington Avenue branch of the Hospital served as a hospital for wounded soldiers. In 1902, the Hospital started to run a soup kitchen to feed the poor. In 1910, the Nursery and Child's Hospital took over the New York Infant Asylum located at Amsterdam Avenue and West 61st street.

In 1859, a servant's school started to operate at the Hospital. The goal of school was to teach children and unwed mothers important skills, so that they could work as a servant or a farmer. The servant school became very popular, and on May 1st 1869, the Country Home and Hospital in West New Brighton, Staten Island opened. The Country Home and Hospital would become known as the Country Branch of the Nursery and Child's Hospital. The Country Branch opened because it was believed that country air was the best thing to help people recovering from contagious diseases, and the school needed more room to operate. Children between the ages of 5-12 were sent to the Country Branch as a boarding school. There the children would be educated in reading, writing, arithmetic, farming, sewing, and other domestic skills. The vegetables produced by farming went to feed the country and city branches of the Hospital and the excess would be sold to make money for the Hospital. The sewing class would sew clothing and linens to be used in the Hospital. In 1893, a summer school was open at the Country Branch. The Nursery and Child's Hospital worked with Mount Sinai Hospital to develop a program to train nurses in obstetrics in 1895. On November 7th 1904, there was a fire at the Country Branch destroying the main building. In April 25th 1905, the Country Branch was closed because it no longer met the standards to operate by the Board of Health. The closure was thought to be temporary, until money could be raised to do the necessary upgrades at the Country Branch. It appears that the money was never raised to reopen and the need for the Country Branch disappeared because the public school system in the early 1900's had started to take over the function of the servant's school.

In 1930's, the Nursery and Child's Hospital had trouble operating and staying out of debt. In November 21, 1934, the New York Hospital expressed interest in taking over all of the Nursery and Child's Hospital, except for the foster home department, erasing all the debts of the Hospital. The Hospital agreed to accept the New York Hospital's proposal and the Nursery and Child's Hospital dissolved with its various departments taken over by other institutions within New York City. Its foster home department continued as the New York Child's Foster Home Service, which was started and funded by the Sullivan Fund.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged into four series, Administrative Records, Correspondence, Journals/Account Books, and Scrapbooks.


  1. Series 1: Administrative Records
  2. Series 2: Correspondence
  3. Series 3: Journals/Account Books
  4. Series 4: Scrapbooks

Scope and Contents Note

The collection is made up of information from the First Director's Office. The collection consists mostly of administration records, correspondence, and financial records of the Hospital from when Mary Mildred Sullivan and her son George Sullivan were directors of the Hospital and ran the charity balls. There is some information from when Mrs. Cornelius DuBois was the director of the Hospital. There is a collection of scrapbooks made by Mrs. Sullivan and her son about the Annual Charity Balls. There is information about an opera benefit for the Hospital and some information about food and menus served at the Hospital. The collection contains secondary information from Mrs. Cornelius DuBois about the formation and start of the Hospital. Most of the Country Branch's information is about the financial operations. While there is some information about the Country Branch after it's closure, there is little information about why and what happen to the property. The information about the consolidation with New York Infant Asylum is only the petition to consolidate. There is information about the centennial of the Nursery and Child's Hospital. The Hospital had taken over the New York Infant Asylum, who had taken over the New York Asylum for Lying-In Women. This gave the Hospital a hundred year history in New York City in 1923. There are the meeting minutes to disband the Hospital, but there is no other information about how the Nursery and Child's Hospital closed and what New York Hospital's departments and New York State Services took over the various departments of the Hospital. There is no medical information about or from the Hospital's patients. The only medical information includes reports to the New York State Department of Health on the Country Branch. The information about the servant's school is on the administration operations. There is no information about children or what happened to the children that stayed at the hospital.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit:

Preferred Citation Note

This collection should be cited as New York City-Nursery and Child's Hospital Records, MS 443.20, The New-York Historical Society.

Location of Materials

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Related Materials at N-YHS

New-York Historical Society has many collections pertaining to the Nursery and Child's Hospital. The collections that are most relevant to this collection are annual reports of the Nursery and Child's Hospital in the City of New York (F128 RA982.N94 A2), Payroll records, 1907-1913 (BV Nursery and Child Hospital), Rules of the Nursery and Child's Hospital: Lexington Ave. and 51st Street, New York. (F128 RA982.N94 R95 1890z), and Constitution and by-laws of the Nursery & Child's Hospital in the City of New York, Fifty-first Street, corner of Lexington Avenue: December 1873. (F128 RA982.N94 C66 1873).

Collection processed by

Ann Christiansen

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:46:49 -0400.
Language: Finding Aid is written in English.


New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024