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Fortunately, however, the children who attend the public schools receive some training. A teacher in the Second Ward school said that while she had a great deal of trouble in teaching the Slavic children obedience, she at least found the parents willing to uphold her in whatever action she took.
Even more serious is the injury to the moral tone of the Slavic community caused by the crowding together of single men and families.
This excerpt from Byington’s study depicted work and home life for the immigrant women of Homestead.
Byington’s account, while sympathetic to the immigrants who comprised the bulk of the steel town’s labor force, was written from the perspective of an outsider.
On one side of the room was a huge puffy bed, with one feather tick to sleep on and another for covering; near the window stood a sewing machine; in the corner, an organ,—all these, besides the inevitable cook stove upon which in the place of honor was simmering the evening’s soup.
Upstairs in the second room were one boarder and the man of the house asleep.
While of the 21 midwives registered in Homestead, five or six have diplomas from schools of midwifery abroad, most of them are ignorant and are careless about cleanliness.
In the courts studied, out of 102 families who took lodgers, 72 had children; of these, 25 families had two, 10 had three, and seven had four. A comparison of births and deaths of children under two . In the crowded Second Ward, taking all races, one child under two dies to every three born,—compared with one to every four in the First Ward, one to every five in the Fifth, one to every eight in the Third, and one to every seven in the Fourth.Since half the families in the courts studied used the kitchen as a sleeping room, there was close mingling of lodgers and family among them.This becomes intolerable when families living in but two rooms take lodgers. Even when extreme crowding does not exist, family and lodgers often all sleep in the kitchen, the only warm room, in winter.This weakened condition at birth combines with the inadequate food and insufficient air and the neglect which comes through over-burdening the mother to produce the appalling infant death rate in these courts.Yet sometimes as you watch the stunted, sickly looking children, you wonder if the real tragedy does not lie rather in the miserable future in store for the babies who live, many of them with undervitalized systems which may make them victims either of disease or of the dissipation that often fastens upon weak wills and weak bodies.
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I was told by a local physician that nearly half of the births in Homestead, the large proportion of them among the Slavic people, were attended by midwives.