As I continue to do breastfeeding research in the Library of Congress archives sometimes I hit a home run and sometimes I come away empty. Most times I come away empty. But, if I look at the photographs a little differently I invariably learn something new.
There is a photo I see all of the time when I do a bare bones breastfeeding search. It shows a woman in a white cape breastfeeding her daughter, Ruth. Her name is Beatrice Baxter Ruyl. I’ve never thought one way or the other about this photograph because it has always been so easy to find, but today I decided to learn more about Beatrice. Perhaps she would come up in a Google search. And sure enough, she did.
Beatrice Baxter Ruyl was an illustrator for the Boston Herald in the early 1900s as well as an author. She was also a socialite who had many artistic friends like Gertrude Käsebier and Fred Holland Day.
This is a photograph taken by Gertrude Käsebier of Ruyl and her daughter in 1905. And if you look on the Museum of Modern Art web site you will find an even prettier breastfeeding photograph of Beatrice and Ruth Ruyl.