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Sept. 8, 1909: Preemies at the State Fair

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: August 28, 2013 - 5:27 PM
 
The Minnesota State Fair has featured many unusual attractions since the first fair was held in Minneapolis in 1859: death-defying aerial acts, colliding locomotives, freak shows, live animal births, the Minnesota Iceman and premature babies in incubators. Wait … what? The Minneapolis Morning Tribune was there.

[Originally posted Sept. 9, 2009]
 

Tiny Baby Is Fair Marvel

Midget 11 Inches in Length, One of Five Infants in Incubator

Five premature babies, “all of good birth,” as the lecturer assures his audiences, are already in the infant incubators of the state fair, and as a feature of universal human interest the incubator holds its own, for from the moment the doors of the cottage where the babies are housed opened to the public a goodly crowd of spectators has been maintained.

Eleven inches in length and weighing one and a half pounds sizes up the smallest infant, which is kept in the end incubator and gives the impression of a much larger creature, by reason of its wrappings. A large pink satin bow is tied conspicuously below its armpits, and matches with remarkable accuracy its tiny face and hands.

The children are fed by wet nurses by means of a tube. Special scales, special self-rocking baskets are among the newest scientific devices for saving the tots, and padded dressing tables make easy, for the nurses, the task of handling and clothing the under-sized babies. They are kept in high temperature and their baths, which are daily, are 96 degrees Fahrenheit. Gradually the temperature and feeding is brought to the normal.

 
Flash mob: These resourceful lads found a way to get into a sideshow at the fair in about 1910. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)

 

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