A Survey of St. Mary’s Shelter for Unmarried Mothers, New York Foundling Hospital, 1869–1949

Sister Marian Jeanne Murphy, Fordham University


On October 11, 1949, the New York Foundling Hospital celebrated its eightieth anniversary. During the years since its inception in 1869 the institution has been a refuge for countless numbers of infants and mothers faced with a variety of problems. Begun as an experiment in response to an urgent need the Foundling has withstood many storms and has become an integral part of child welfare in New York City. Inspired by the zeal and sacrifice of its foundress, Sister Mary Irene, the Sisters of Charity have endeavored through their work at the Foundling to fulfill the precept of the Divine Social Worker, Whatsoever you do to the least of these my brethren, you do unto Me”. Great things, says Cardinal Newman, are done by devotion to one idea. Although the work of the Sisters of Charity in the New York Foundling Hospital is extremely broad in scope, there lies behind it one compelling and unifying thought. Their aim is today, as it was eighty years ago, to offer the best possible care to the dependent infants of New York City, seeing in each the Divine Babe of Bethlehem. Throughout the history of the development of child welfare services in this country work with unmarried mothers had advanced at an equal pace. The Sisters of Charity realizing that an out of wedlock child cannot be adequately planned for without understanding and accepting the wishes of his mother have united this service to the others offered by the Foundling. Thus it can be seen that the services of St. Mary's Shelter and those of the other Foundling Departments share the same motivating idea.

Subject Area

Social work|Social research|Social studies education

Recommended Citation

Murphy, Sister Marian Jeanne, "A Survey of St. Mary’s Shelter for Unmarried Mothers, New York Foundling Hospital, 1869–1949" (1950). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30725048.