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Category Archives: Baby farming

Denison Daily News, February 3, 1878. Strange and affecting enough, I suppose, in the era of baby farming. The long beard is a nice touch, but how long is long? Longer than three feet?
As an instance of maternal impression, this is oddly nebulous, lacking the Just So Stories exactitude one is conditioned to expect. There needs to be a better morphological link between the fire and the condition of the child. Speaking of maternal impression, I haven’t until now created a tag or formal thread for that interesting theme, and must now correct this oversight.

baby farming in nyChicago Tribune, August 4, 1874. This is your standard-issue exposé of the baby-farming racket, which provided unwilling parents with fourth-trimester abortions. Read More »

cult af am 3 29 1926Baltimore Afro-American, March 3, 1926. Apparently there used to be race of immortal black Jews in New Jersey. Who knew? But this is very loose application of the term “baby farming.” I don’t see anything going on here but standard-issue religious sleazebaggery and fecundity. Read More »

dummy babiesWashington Post, May 30, 1907. It doesn’t get much more Gothic than this, does it now? I suppose it probably behooves me to explain what “baby farming” was. Back in the golden age of “family values,” before contraception, legal abortion and the regulation of adoption, there was a black- market industry dedicated to the discreet disposal of unwanted infants. The unwilling parent or parents handed the child off to a “caregiver” along with a small payment nominally intended for the child’s upkeep. Nobody was too broken up when the child failed to thrive, and into the ground he or she went, unshriven and unmourned. Exposure typically entailed or began with the discovery of a tragic little Potter’s field, so you can see how the cops leapt to the conclusion they did. We talk a lot today about the barbarism of Chinese and Third World infanticide, but it wasn’t too long ago that similar practices were common in the West. Baby farming scandals were routine in the U.S., England and France. No doubt it happened elsewhere too, but those were the cases that got reported stateside.
As for Mr. Brown and his handcrafted neonate cadavers, who knows what was going on in his obsessive head? On the one hand, his deal strikes me as an off-label anticipation of the women who today nurture and fuss over their “reborn” baby dolls. On the other, you can look at him as a heavyweight outsider artist avant la lettre. Today he’d probably be swarmed by gallerists, grant-giving agencies and academics.

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