New York Asylum of Lying-In Women

The New York Asylum for Lying-In Women was founded in 1823 to provide care for "destitute respectable women in confinement". It shared in the operation of a ward at New York Hospital, until its withdrawal in 1825 to separate facilities on Greene Street. In 1830, the institution moved to 85 Marion Street, known then as Orange Street, where it remained until its move in 1885 to 139 Second Avenue.

While the asylum did not discriminate on the basis of religion or national origin, it was very strict in its requirement of "respectability". Patients were referred to the asylum by district physicians, scattered through the city, and were screened for admission by the Board of Managers, on the basis of proof of marriage and character references. Those whose characters were not "perfectly unexceptionable" were rejected. As the board said in its 1831 annual report, "to throw the institution open to all ... would confine its operation to the vicious alone. For how could the virtuous, married women ... willingly become the associate and fellow-pensioner of the degraded and abandoned?" The "vicious" could, however, receive care at home after the establishment of the Outdoor Department in 1831; "respectability" was not a requirement.

In 1894, the asylum changed its name to Old Marion Street Maternity Hospital. It continued operating until it merged in 1899 with the New York Infant Asylum, taking the latter's name and more enlightened admission policies. The New York Infant Asylum joined with the Nursery and Child's Hospital in 1910 to form the New York Nursery and Child's Hospital, which became a part of the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in 1934.


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