Wednesday, August 2, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: August 2

August 2, 1905 – The Infant Incubator Institute at Twin City Wonderland Park boasts that it has the smallest living baby—weight, one pound five ounces.

The child, a little girl, was born yesterday afternoon and was brought to the institute this morning. She measures but ten inches in height and is but nine inches about the body at the chest. The circumference of its head is eight and one-fourth inches. The circumference of one of her little wrists is but two inches.

The chances are very much against the tiny mite of humanity, for a baby to live that weighs less than two pounds when born is almost a miracle. There have been such instances, but they are rare. This little one, however, shows evidence of possessing unusual vitality. She has taken nourishment, and the indications for the time seem favorable.

The Infant Incubator Institute or Infantorium, was a key attraction at Wonderland, “where, for a small fee, the public could see premature babies in incubators. At the time, incubators were a new technology and most premature babies died within a few days of birth. The exhibit worked both to promote incubator technology and save lives. The price of admission paid for the staff, and parents owed the park nothing for the care of their baby. The incubators kept the babies warm, and nurses made sure that the newborns received regular feedings from wet-nurses. The babies remained anonymous during their time at Wonderland, though local newspapers covered their progress at the unit by giving them nicknames. Nearly all of the babies sent to the Incubator Institute survived. While such displays would seem strange today, at the time, incubator displays had been a part of the recent World's Fair in Paris in 1900 and at Coney Island.”

Two babies at the Infantorium c. 1905. The one on the left has been in an incubator for some time, while the one on the right is a more recent arrival.2

The Minneapolis Journal
; “Has Smallest Baby. Tiny Mite of Humanity Being Nursed in Incubator.”; Aug. 3, 1905; p. 4.



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