Thursday, March 28, 2013

Was Your Ancestor Entered in a Better Baby Contest?

The Ultimate History Project has a brief interesting article on the mixed heritage and results of Better Baby Contests that were all the rage just about a century ago. Babies were weighed and scored on a number of supposedly scientific criteria; often there was an anti-immigrant or anti-black subtext to the movement at a time when eugenics had not yet become a dirty word.

But genealogists devour everything. These contests are another potential source of information, as contestants and winners were sometimes pictured and identified in local newspapers. The above article about a Missouri contest appeared in the Quincy (Illinois) Daily Journal in 1915 -- thanks to the Quincy Public Library's awesome newspaper archive. I have seen BBCs with pictures spread across an entire page of a small-town newspaper.

Rachel Louise Moran, "Making Perfect Children," The Ultimate History Project ( : accessed 25 March 2013).

"Additional Awards in Palmyra Round-Up," Quincy Daily Journal, (Quincy, Illinois), Thursday 23 December 1915, p. 8; digital image, Quincy Public Library Newspaper Archive ( : accessed 26 March 2013).

Harold Henderson, "Was Your Ancestor Entered in a Better Baby Contest?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 28 March 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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