In 1911, a Paris orphanage held a raffle to raise money – the prizes were live babies

In 1911, the problem of abandoned children in urban areas was still Charles Dickens-level alarming. Child labor was practiced in many major cities across the world, and orphans were sometimes forced orphans to work with dangerous equipment in factories and on assembly lines under almost no supervision. And that was sometimes the best-case scenario. Children who didn’t make it to an orphanage were left to fend for themselves on the busy streets of bustling cities like Paris and London and New York. The street life often to led to a life of crime.

Foundling hospitals like the one in Paris were among the very best options when it came to dealing with orphans and other abandoned children. They were far from perfect, but they were still an important step in the lengthy evolution of childcare. It’s tough to celebrate an event with human beings as prizes, but also hard to deny the intentions of the orphanage

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