Weill Cornell Medicine Samuel J. Wood Library

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New York Infant Asylum

The New York Infant Asylum opened its doors at 106th Street in 1865, to provide care for foundlings and abandoned children. By 1871, when it moved to 24 Clinton Place, its function had expanded to include a lying-in department and child-care training for mothers. By 1873, most of the asylum was moved to 61st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, leaving only a House of Reception downtown, which closed in 1879. The first country branch of the asylum opened in Flushing in 1872 and existed until 1881, with a second opening in Mount Vernon in 1878.

The intended recipients of the asylum's charity were unwanted children, and its purpose was to find them homes and provide a wholesome atmosphere until their placement. Obstetrical care was also provided for unwed or indigent women. However, the charity of the asylum was not wholly without restrictions. An unwed mother could receive care during her first pregnancy only, and not for any subsequent pregnancies. The theory of the Board of Managers was that it was human to make one mistake, but immoral to make two.

In 1899, the New York Asylum for Lying-In Women was absorbed into the lying-in department of the New York Infant Asylum. In 1910, the New York Infant Asylum and the Nursery and Child's Hospital consolidated to form the New York Nursery and Child's Hospital, which became part of the New York-Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in 1934. That center is today known as the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

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