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Baby farming

Join this Vicfix campaign to learn the tragic fate of babies exchanged for cash in late-Victorian Melbourne

Vicfix is improving the searchability of digitised newspaper articles and making the hidden details of Victoria's rich history available for everyone.

About baby farming

The Victorian Infant Asylum was established in 1877 to help prevent the dubious practice of baby farming, in which illegitimate and unwanted babies were adopted by a wet nurse for a fee. Responsible for a mortality rate three-quarters higher than other infant deaths, baby farmers were seen as unscrupulous exploiters of women and children in need, using the money exchanged to buy gin for the nurse rather than milk for the child.

Newspaper reports from the 1870s to 1890s provide tragic details of inquests into the deaths of neglected and starved children, of tiny bodies buried in backyards and allegations of extreme cruelty. Such cases were met by calls for legislation, the creation of asylums and crèches, and the eventual establishment of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 1896.

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  • Choose an article listed below and click through to correct it on Trove (see our How-to guide).
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baby farming

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