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Honorary Members
Sara Josephine Baker

Sara Josephine Baker was the first woman among the honorary inductees into Delta Omega. She was also among the first three honorary members in 1924. Her career as a doctor dedicated to improving child health in New York City and as a public health administrator for the City of New York were both impressive credentials.

Baker was the daughter of a privileged family, but the death of her father to typhoid put her planned Ivy League education out of reach. She decided to study medicine at the Women's Medical College of New York Infirmary in New York City. The early exposure to typhoid in her family might have contributed to her desire to be a doctor.

After having a private practice for a few years, in 1901, Baker became a medical inspector for the New York City department of health. In 1907, she received a significant promotion and was appointed assistant to the Commissioner for Public Health of NYC. In this capacity, Baker developed a comprehensive plan for the promotion of better preventive health care for children. Focusing on preventive care, she implemented her pilot program in the East Side, which resulted in 1,200 fewer cases of infant mortality. The success of her preventive care for children program lead to the development of the Division of Child Hygiene in 1908 to which she was named Director. As the director of the Division of Child Hygiene (later a Bureau), Baker was responsible for the implementation of many programs dedicated to improving the health of children. For example, licensing of midwives helped to provide more knowledgeable birthing practitioners. The use of silver nitrate drops in the eyes of newborns became the norm to prevent blindness.

Her campaign to improve the health and welfare of children included training young girls to be childcare providers ("Little Mothers' League") and the organization of the Babies Welfare Association (later reorganized and named the Children's Welfare Federation of New York). Her preventive medicine campaigns helped to decrease infant mortality from 144 deaths to children under one year of age per 1000 live births in 1908 to 66 deaths per 1000 live births in 1923 (

Besides work as a public administrator, Baker also lectured on child hygiene at New York University - Bellevue Hospital Medical School (1916-1930). She also served as a staff consultant to the Federal Children's Bureau.

Baker was the first woman to receive a doctorate in public health in 1917. Upon her retirement in 1923, Baker was the first woman to be a representative to the League of Nations. Baker died in 1945 in New York City.





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