Sara Josephine Baker (1873–1945) was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, and attended the Woman’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary. As the first director of New York’s Bureau of Child Hygiene from 1908 to 1923, Baker’s work with poor mothers and children in the immigrant communities of New York City dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality and became a model for cities across the country. On two occasions she helped to track down Mary Mallon, the cook who came to be known as Typhoid Mary. Baker wrote fifty journal articles and more than two hundred pieces for the popular press about preventive medicine, as well as six books: Healthy Babies, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Children (all 1920), The Growing Child (1923), Child Hygiene (1925), and her autobiography, Fighting for Life (1939). In the 1930s Baker, along with her partner of many years, the novelist Ida Wylie, and their friend Dr. Louise Pearce, moved to a two-hundred-year-old farm in New Jersey, where she lived until her death.
In 1918, Dr. S. Josephine Baker made the shocking assertion that front-line soldiers enjoyed better survival rates than infants born in NYC. And then she did something about it, developing hygiene programs that turned the city into one of the safest places to be born and in the process creating the discipline of preventive medicine. Here she recounts her many crusades, including her successful identification of Typhoid Mary and work as a suffragist.