the origins of The book of health

Catherine Rollet, ” For a history of the book of child health : a public or a private ? “, Revue Française des Affaires sociales 3/2005 (n° 3), p 129-156.

The book of health is an invention of dr. Jean-Baptiste Fonssagrives, a doctor from montpellier, which calls for careful observation by the mothers of the state of the health of children, in order to assist the doctor. In his book of 1868, The role of mothers in the diseases of the children or what they need to know to assist the doctor it sets out the need to be recorded by mothers all sorts of comments about their child. An idea to execution, since in 1869 he published the Booklet breast to take notes on the health of children, in two volumes (one for boys, another for girls). Fonssagrives hope by then to be born ” the increase in families in the sense of the real value of health and care that he requires “, a feeling which Philippe Ariès has shown, in the birth history1. In France, this initiative has had only a limited audience, but at the same time appear to be translations in the United States, the netherlands and Italy.

As shown by the author, if Fonssagrives connected to his health record to the ideas of Florence Nightingale, one can find the origins in the two currents. On the one hand, since the Enlightenment, ” there is a tradition of Newspaper relating to the development of the small child from the point of view of health and of education. “On the other hand, the health book is reminiscent of the booklet that accompanies the children entrusted to the public Assistance. In addition, Catherine Rollet establishes that at the same time is discussed at the Academy of medicine the idea of a booklet for children in care as a nurse.

The initiative Fonssagrives is not remained a dead letter : in the course of the Third Republic and at the turn of the century bloom of a number of initiatives. The most complete is that of J. Lescasse, who in 1887 published, to the author’s account, The book of baby dedicated to the mothers of the family. Initiative continues, it has experienced more than eleven editions. It should also be noted that du docteur Fumouze-Albespeyre, dr. Larat, who publishes in French a health Booklet of the child of 48 pages where advice and pages of comments to fill alternate.

PS : The article by Catherine Rollet goes well beyond this historical period

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