Other Mothers' Milk: From Wet Nursing to Human Milk Banking in England, 1900-1950

Katharina Rowold

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This article investigates the continuities between wet nursing and the emergence of human milk banking in England in the first half of the twentieth century. It revisits the assumption that wet nursing had disappeared in England at the beginning of the twentieth century, and focuses attention on a continuing, albeit diminished, practice of private wet nursing after 1900 and the re-emergence of the institutional employment of lactating mothers in the interwar period. The article explores how changes in infant welfare preoccupations, medical views of breastfeeding and breast milk, and conceptualisations of the lactating body were embedded in the development from wet nursing to human milk banking.

© 2019, The Social History Society. The attached document (embargoed until 24/06/2021) is an author produced version of a paper published in CULTURAL AND SOCIAL HISTORY uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-620
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2019


  • Wet nursing
  • breast milk
  • breastfeeding
  • human milk banks

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