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Journal Article


Rodegra H, Lindeman M, Ewald M. Gesnerus 1978; 35(3-4): 276-296.

Vernacular Title

Kindermord und verheimlichte Schwangerschaft in Hamburg im 18. Jahrhundert.


(Copyright © 1978, Swiss Society of the History of Medicine and Sciences, Publisher Verlag Sauerländer)






This article illustrates the relationship between the crimes of infanticide and child abandonment and the less well-known crime of concealing an illegitimate pregnancy. Although criminal statistics in a medern sense certainly do not exist for 18th century Hamburg, it is possible to use other available archival material, such as the protocols of the city's major ruling council, to develop some picture of not only the crime but also of the major criminal involved--the unwed mother. This article also deals with the measures taken to prevent these crimes. Although the discussion of punitive measures cannot be neglected, there has been a special attempt made to discuss the philanthropic, educational, and medical means to stop the crime before it has been committed. Particular attention is given to the role of medical personnel, the city's midwives, and a "Geburtshelfer" (male midwives) in uncovering illegitimate pregnancies and registering them with the proper authorities. It is here asserted that such methods were not only directed at preventing infanticides but also at trying to minimize the number of illegitimate and homeless children who inevitably burden the city's charitable institutions.

Language: de


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