Scientific Motherhood and "Gruesome Discoveries" in Halifax, 1910-1930
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This thesis examines the Scientific Motherhood movement as part of the culture of the 1910's and 1920's with particular emphasis on the city of Halifax. This study tries to assess the movement's influence on the parenting practices of the nation, the cultural construction of infanticide and its relation to parallel trends concerning women's work inside and outside of the home. Three research avenues used by this thesis include: (1) discourse from popular culture (newspapers and magazines); (2) medical discourse (the Reports of the Halifax Medical Examiners); and (3) discourse from the justice system (Halifax Supreme Court Cases involving mothers who were charged with murdering their newborns). This study argues that during the teens and twenties, society's perception of Motherhood had a defining effect on women's lives. The Scientific Motherhood was part of the culture of this period and, thus, normative standards for motherhood can not be viewed separately from the sexual and work standards applied to women. While the Scientific Motherhood did have a transformative effect on child-rearing practices, the cultural construction of infanticide and ultimately on women's lives, it was not the only prescriptive discourse available to women. By examining the discourse from popular culture of the period, this thesis uncovers alternative methods of child raising available to parents. Despite this availability of alternative child-rearing practices, the Scientific Motherhood was undeniably a strong and transformative force in society, quite difficult to totally ignore.