925 Grand Ave, Keokuk, Iowa
Bryn Mawr College, 101 N Merion Ave, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Oakland Cemetery Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa, USA
Grace Meigs Crowder (August 27, 1881 – January 20, 1925) was a physician and former puiblic health official whose contribution to the welfare of women and children is so significant and so valuable that it merits a public tribute to her memory. Established in 1912, with a remit of investigating and reporting on all matters affecting children and child life, the Children’s Bureau was the outcome of an alignment between Florence Kelley, Lillian Wald, Julia Lathrop and Grace Meigs, a doctor also associated with Hull-House who did a large and influential study of maternal mortality for the Bureau in 1917. Wald, Kelley, Lathrop and Meigs all played important roles in designing legislation for services to reduce infant and maternal mortality. The Maternity and Infancy Act (known as the Sheppard-Towner Act) of 1921, which proceeded directly from the Children’s Bureau work, provided grants to states to develop health services for mothers and children.
Dr. Grace Meigs was born in Rock Island, Illinois, on August 27, 1881, one of the daughter of Montgomery Meigs (1847-1931) and Grace Lynde (1859-1925). Montgomery Meigs pursued the career of a civil engineer in the Army Corps of Engineers, working on navigation and flood control dams on the Mississippi River. Most of Montgomery's working life was spent on the northern parts of the river near Keokuk, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois. Montgomery and Grace had six daughters: Mary Meigs Atwater, Grace ("Dick," "Richard") Meigs Crowder, Emily ("Tim," "Timmy") Meigs Fales, Louisa ("Spidge," "Weesy") Meigs Green, Cornelia Meigs, and Alice ("Po," "Posey") Meigs Orr.
Grace Meigs Crowder was graduated from Bryn Mawr College with the degree of A.B., in 1903, and received her degree of M.D. from Rush Medical College of the University of Chicago in 1908, standing first in her class. Later she carried on post-graduate study in Germany and Austria; was an interne of the Cook County (Illinois) Hospital; attending physician to the same hospital; Fellow with the Otho S. A. Sprague Memorial Institute at the Children's Memorial Hospital and a member of the faculty of Rush Medical College in the Department of Pediatrics.
With this background of special preparation for her chosen field of work, Dr. Meigs became associated with the Children's Bureau of the United States Department of Labor on October 21, 1914, and served as the director of the Bureau's Division of Hygiene until July 15, 1918. During this time she was in immediate charge of the bureau's activities relating to the health of women and children. The results of her work during this time bear vivid testimony to her sound scientific standards combined with her sympathetic realization of the human side of the problems that it was her desire to meet and to solve. Her opportunity for service was equalled by her ability to render it in full measure. Not only does the entire field of public health bear witness to her pioneer work in establishing a basis for our efforts to reduce the maternal mortality rate, but thousands of women are now living who owe their lives to Dr. Meigs' epochmarking studies of the causes of maternal mortality and the determination of the basic methods that we are now following in our program for lessening the dangers of motherhood.
In 1917, Dr. Meigs published her study: "Maternal Mortality from all Conditions Connected with Child Birth, in the United States and Certain Other Countries." No such comprehensive study of this subject had previously been published. It served in large measure to stimulate the beginning of organized public health work for the reduction of the maternal morbidity and mortality rates in this and other countries. Her interests covered the entire field of maternal and infant hygiene with particular reference to rural obstetrics and the problem of the baby born and living in a rural community. It is safe to say that there are few other persons who have made so vital and so significant a contribution to public health work for women and children. In 1923 she wrote "Infant Mortality: Results of a Field Study in Baltimore, Md., Based on Births in One Year", with Anna Rochester, Estelle B Hunter, Emma Duke, and Robert Morse Woodbury.
In September, 1918, Dr. Meigs was married to Dr. Thomas Reid Crowder of Chicago. She is survived by her husband and three children; Alice, Juliet and Thomas R., Jr. S. Josephine Baker wrote her obituary.
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