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Sara Josephine Baker


The esteemed, fondly remembered Dr. Josephine Baker has her origins in the city of Poughkeepsie, New York, where she was born in the year 1873. Growing up, Josephine Baker had vague, if any, plans regarding what she would do after she finished school. She knew for sure that eventual marriage and children were definitely awaiting her once she was done and over with what little she would study. However, what she knew would take place and what actually happened came out to be two very different scenarios.

The Journey

Sara’s father died of typhoid fever when she was just 16 years of age. Inspired by the unfair suddenness with which disease could snatch away life, Sara’s path changed totally and she began her foray into medicine.

Sara graduated from the Women’s Medical College in New York, and after completing an internship, took a job in the city’s health department. As her first assignment, she was sent into Hell’s Kitchen; one of the absolute worst slums in the city, where 1500 newborns succumbed to disease every week. This area of the city was jam-packed with tenants, giving rise to even more disease; around 6000 people lived in just one block.

A Revolution

It was this hellish landscape in which Dr. Josephine Baker not only made a name for herself, but also ended up saving around 82,000 lives, especially those of infants. She started a preventative regime, one that had never before been practiced. She sent nurses who taught hygiene to every mother in disease-ridden areas. She gave away free milk for babies, and also invented a formula that could easily be made at home. She created a licensing system for nurses, thus flushing out incompetency. She started a babysitting program for older siblings, teaching them how to take care of infants so the latter would not suffer neglect when mothers had to leave the house.

Sara Josephine also pointed out another fact; babies were dying at such a fast rate also due to the fact that they were not coddled. Instead of focusing on making children independent and self-sufficient from an early age, they needed to be pampered as much as possible so that they knew there was someone who cared for them.

Dr. Josephine Baker managed to twist the odds in her favor even during those backward times, and excelled in a field that was considered extremely hard to navigate. She was not just a physician; she possessed the passion and drive to be a revolutionist.

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