Technology, Hope, and Motherhood: What We Can Learn from the History of the Infant Incubator

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Jeff Baker, MD, PhD, Director, Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine; Professor of Pediatrics, Duke University School of Medicine


At the turn of the last century, a new medical invention known as the infant incubator captured the imagination of physicians and the public.   The device became a public sensation and appeared in settings ranging from hospitals to world fairs midway side-shows (complete with live infants).   But in the process it set off a great controversy regarding whether so-called premature and weak infants should be rescued in the first place, and whether their care should be entrusted to mothers, physicians, or scientifically-trained nurses.

Dr. Baker is the Director of the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine at Duke University. He is the author of The Machine in the Nursery: Incubator Technology and the Origins of Newborn Intensive Care (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) and a renowned authority on the history of the infant incubator.

Sponsored by the History of Medicine Collections in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library