This introductory chapter discusses the main topic of the book: infant and maternal health care created for impoverished women in the turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York City. In particular, the text compares the health outcomes of three different groups of poor and working-class women whose stories of infant and maternal health care are linked by New York City's first citywide mortality study in 1915. Poor and working-class African American, British West Indian, and southern Italian women received some of the nation's best health care, albeit shrouded in racially gendered and classed misconceptions and stereotypes of their supposed inferiority. In relation to this, numerous historians of public health have shown that socioeconomic factors and cultural traditions have influenced how client communities have responded to the health care they received.
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