Long ago in Internet years (about seven years ago) I was a staunch breastfeeding advocate and researcher (still am!). Back then I wanted to get to the bottom of why nursing in public was such a big issue in the United States. So, I started digging in the photo archives of the Library of Congress for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours and discovered through black and white, historic photos that breastfeeding in public hasn’t always been a problem in the United States.
Last week I was reminded about all of my research when during the #EveryNewborn Twitter chat Kenyan Social Good Moms correspondent Maryanne Waweru Wanyama mentioned that Kenyans do not have a problem with public nursing. It’s true. The many, many times I have been to Africa I have never witnessed a problem with women breastfeeding in public; no disgusted glares or reprimands. And yet, here in the United States public breastfeeding always draws controversy.
Thankfully, many African communities have no qualms about nursing moms breastfeeding in public. It's NOT considered indecent #EveryNewborn—
Maryanne Waweru-W (@MummyTales) July 31, 2014
Social Good Moms (@socialgoodmoms) July 31, 2014
For World Breastfeeding Week I wanted to revisit the historic photos I found years ago in the Library of Congress archives that show nursing in public hasn’t always been an issue like it is today. When public perception about breastfeeding changed in the United States, I still don’t know. It’s definitely an issue worth pursuing.
This post will be updated from time to time. There are more photos I have found from the archives and I will share them here.
Also, see a recent post I wrote: [Photos in Black and White] Historical Look at Child and Newborn Health in the US.