Many societal factors converged as founders organized the AAP by Alyson Sulaski Wyckoff , Associate Editor 1920s The Copyright © 2020 American Academy of Pediatrics Editor’s note: Th is is the fi rst of a series of articles on the AAP’s 90th anniversary published by AAP News, (January, 2020). Societal forces helped pave the way for the Academy’s founding in 1930 and inspired a dedicated group of pediatricians. Th ere was momentum to address conditions in the country such as high infant and maternal mortality, rampant disease, child labor, poverty and malnutrition. Th e late 19th and early 20th centuries also were characterized by the great wave of immigration, women’s suff rage, migration to cities and poor housing conditions. Th e science of public health was emerging, and experts started to take a greater interest in the eff ects on children. “Th e founders at that time were actually thinking about what we now know as the social determinants of health,” said Lynn Olson, Ph.D., AAP vice president of Research. “Th ese were the physicians in the 1930s. When you think about what was going on in the country it’s not hard to see what was motivating the founders.” Th e need was great to promote the highest pediatric standards. “…it became obvious that our country needed national programs to improve child health and welfare,” AAP Past President James G. Hughes, M.D., FAAP, wrote in “American Academy of Pediatrics: Th e First 50 Years.” Special calling While other pediatric groups existed, including the pediatric section of the American Medical Association (AMA), none seemed able to give pediatrics its due. Th e American Pediatric Society, for example, was geared toward scholarly endeavors. Despite their ties to the AMA, the pediatric leaders were not content to remain minor players. Motivation to start a new society was even greater as a result of the fi rst three White House conferences on children (in 1909, 1919 and 1930), where pediatricians played key roles. In 1909, President Th eodore Roosevelt’s conference resulted in the formation of the Children’s Bureau in 1912. By the time President Herbert Hoover held the third conference, which was led by pediatricians, health care was a central focus. Th at meeting led to far-reaching, bold recommendations such as the Children’s Charter, which as far back as 1930 sought to put forth the rights of every child. Guidance that emanated from the conferences hastened the need for a new group like the Academy. AAP co-founder Cliff ord G. Grulee, M.D., FAAP, wrote: “…With the many recommendations which will come from that body (White House conference), there seemed to be no organization fi tted to take up and carry on the work. In other words, the vast accumulation of material of great scientifi c and practical value would simply be wasted because of failure of any group to place it properly.” Dr. Grulee, the AAP’s fi rst secretary-treasurer and later executive secretary, went on to play a signifi cant role in the AAP’s organization. Another historical marker was the Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921, the fi rst major federal legislation passed to provide grants to improve infant and maternal health. Many sup- ported the legislation, but it was fought by groups such as Child labor and other societal ills helped spur solutions to improve conditions for children in the Progressive Era, 1890s-1920s, part of broader reform eff orts and motivation for the AAP founders. uni278A
Previous Page Next Page