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Edna Finch Bobroff: Milwaukee’s Public Health and Factory Inspector « Portrait Artist from Westchester, NY – Anne Bobroff-Hajal

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Edna Finch Bobroff: Preview

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Pages from the history of nursing and public health in the United States

1911 New York Times announcement

1911 New York Times announcement

I’ve been writing for several months now about my grandfather, whose name in the US became Bornett L. Bobroff.  My grandmother Edna Finch, his wife, had a unique career of her own.

I hadn’t yet been planning to write about Edna Finch because it’s been very difficult to find information about her.  But googlebooks has done it again: their scanning all kinds of esoteric old documents has given me another unexpected portrait of one of my grandparents.  In this case, the document is a 1911 issue of Life and Health, The National Health Magazine (see below).

I’m not sure who at googlebooks is standing around scanning all these dusty tomes.  But I personally am very grateful.

Edna Finch, by very early adulthood, had become the main support of her mother and siblings.  Trained as a nurse, she somehow or other brought her family from their home in upstate NY to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  There she became a visiting nurse.  And then she was appointed by the socialist city government’s Commissioner of Health as Milwaukee’s public health inspector.  Later, she earned the job which gained her the most press coverage (see above for one example from the New York Times): the United States’ first “woman policeman.”  (Her police powers under the socialist Milwaukee government were to arrest factory owners and sweatshop labor employers who flouted labor and sanitary laws.)

I’ll write more in future posts about “the first woman policeman.”  For now, by way of introduction to Edna Finch, here is my most recent treasure-find via googlebooks:

Article from Life and Health, The National Health Magazine, 1911.

First page of article from Life and Health, The National Health Magazine, 1911.