One of the areas in which I was most interested was infant and maternal health. On this trip, I learned about the attitudes throughout history regarding women, specifically unwed mothers, and children. The United Kingdom is no different from the U.S. in that women in these countries weren’t, and still aren’t treated equally. In the 18th and 19th century, this rang true in medical treatment for pregnant women who were unmarried. But this fact didn’t shock me; the way in which they and urban society in London regarded the lives of children was appalling. I’ve always known that the quality of life in London, and many European cities was neither glamorous nor clean, but I didn’t think it would cause so many social and health problems in regards to alcoholism. The drinking culture in the U.K. is very relaxed today which is a stark contrast to the late 18th century when men and women were drunk on cheap gin and committing horrible crimes such as infanticide. The Foundling Museum highlights this era of British history and how Thomas Coram, along with many other brave women, were bold enough to help against society’s wishes.
Like Coram and the Duchesses that initiated his patronage, I believe more can be done to improve the treatment that children receive in the US and many other countries. There are cities in America that look and feel like a third world country, so there is much to be done to improve this aspect of health, including increased access to healthy food and higher safety measures to allow communities to exercise in their area.