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The Kansas Government Information (KGI) Online Library
Kansas government publications, resources and information available from the State Library of Kansas

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May 05

The Kansas Mothers' Manuals 1917-1944

Posted on May 5, 2016 at 10:20 AM by Bill Sowers

From about 1917 to 1944 the Kansas State Board of Health published several editions of a manual for women and girls on understanding their physical development, good hygiene, the identification of possible diseases and disorders, pregnancy, prenatal care, birth, post natal care of the mother and child as well as child care/development. In a time when such things were not normally discussed openly these manuals were a clear way for women to understand their physical selves before, during and after delivery.  As stated in the 1922 edition:

"It is the right and duty of every woman to be intelligently informed as to the structure of her own body and the essential facts concerning childbearing
and child care. The laws of health and the rules of child care are simple and their observance should be within the reach of all. Every girl should learn them as a part of her preparation for life. Because we have not been wise enough to teach these things in our homes and schools, it becomes necessary to write this book in order to tell women about their own bodies and about the growth and care of their children."

The Kansas Government Information (KGI) Online Library has ten digitized copies of "The Mothers' Manual" from 1917-1944 up online.  They give a detailed look at social norms, medical treatment, child care and hygiene spanning about three decades.  Check the manuals out here:

Click on the blue highlighted title and then peruse the books by year.