The Stork Club

Dr. Morris Fishbein, physician, medical editor, writer, lecturer and prodigious fund-raiser, was associated with the American Medical Association from 1912-1948. In 1924, Fishbein assumed the editorship of The Journal of the American Medical Association. In that capacity Fishbein became the AMA's spokesman and transformed JAMA into one of the most influential periodicals in the history of medical journalism. One of the lesser-mbut more entertaining-features of the Journal was "Tonics and Sedatives," a column devoted to anecdotes from behind the scenes of the medical profession. Among those tidbits of information were unusual and amusing birth announcements telling of the birth of babies from all over the country. These "stork calling cards" came from parents, relatives, friends, and obstetricians, and form a sizable collection, numbering more than 1,000. Mostly from the 1930s and Ô40s, they range from the first three-cornered garment a baby wears-a flannelette diaper only one inch in size-to ten-page booklets recreating the story of the arrival of the new child. Many reflect the occupation of the proud father or insist on his contribution to the event. Others take their direction from the media and world events; they are colored by the political climate of the thirties, the Depression years, the draft, and finally the War. These birth announcements constitute a special chapter in contemporary social history. The materials in this exhibition were selected from the Morris Fishbein Papers. After Dr. Fishbein's death in 1976, his papers were bequeathed to the Morris Fishbein Center for the History of Medicine and Science at The University of Chicago; the Center arranged for their transfer to the Library in 1976.