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Here's an article about how common it was for well off families in Victorian England (so presumably those with access to the best possible health care) to photograph dead children with their surviving parents or siblings.

Taken from life: The unsettling art of death photography
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36389581

It cites common causes of child mortality as many of the diseases we vaccinate against today, including measles, diphtheria and rubella.
 

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How sad to see the pain of death
Yeah. We seem to console ourselves that people used to be used to child death so "it wasn't so bad". I can't imagine the death of a child ever being easy to get over.
 

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It's difficult for me to even imagine. This reminds me of an excerpt I read from the book The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain by Daniel Gardner:


There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be Alive

In central Ontario, near where my parents live, there is a tiny cemetery filled with rusted ironwork and headstones heaved to odd angles by decades of winter frost and spring thaws. This was farm country once. Pioneers arrived at the end of the nineteenth century, cut the trees, pulled up the stumps, and discovered, after so much crushing labor, that their new fields amounted to little more than a thin layer of soil stretched across the bare granite of the Canadian Shield. Most farms lasted a generation or two before the fields were surrendered to the forests. Today, only the cemeteries remain.

The pioneers were not wealthy people, but they always bought the biggest headstones they could afford. They wanted something that declared who they were, something that would last. They knew how easily their own existence could end. Headstones had to endure. “Children of James and Janey Morden,” announces one obelisk in the cemetery. It’s almost six feet tall. The stone says the first to die was Charles W. Morden. He was four years and nine months old.
It was the winter of 1902. The little boy would have complained that he had a sore throat. He was tired and his forehead felt a little warm to his mother’s hand. A day or two passed and as Charles lay in bed he grew pale. His heart raced. His skin burned and he started to vomit. His throat swelled so that each breath was a struggle and his head was immobilized on the sweat-soaked pillow. His mother, Janey, would have known what was torturing her little boy, but with no treatment she likely wouldn’t have dared speak its name.

Then Charles’s little brother, Earl, started to cry. His throat was sore, he moaned. And he was so hot. Albert, the oldest of the boys, said he, too, was tired. And yes, his throat hurt.
Charles W. Morden died on Tuesday, January 14, 1902. His father would have had to wrap the little boy’s body in a blanket and carry him out through the deepening snow to the barn. The cold would seep into the corpse and freeze it solid until spring, when rising temperatures would thaw the ground and the father could dig his son’s grave.
The next day, both Earl and Albert died. Earl was two years and ten months old. Albert was six years and four months. Their father would have gotten out two more blankets, wrapped his sons, and taken them out to the barn to freeze.
Then the girls started to get sick. On January 18, 1902, the eldest died. Minnie Morden was ten years old. Her seven-year-old sister, Ellamanda, died the same day.

On Sunday, January 19, 1902, the fever took little Dorcas, barely eighteen months old. For the final time, James Morden bundled a child in a blanket, walked through the snow, and laid her down in the cold and dark of the barn, where she and her brothers and sisters would wait through the long winter to be buried.
The same fever that swept away the Morden children in the winter of 1902 leapt from homestead to homestead—the obelisk next to the Mordens’ is dedicated to the two children of Elias and Laura Ashton, lost within weeks of their neighbors. The Ashtons already knew what it felt like to lose children. Their fifteen-year-old son had died in 1900, and a five-year-old boy had been taken from them eight years before that.

It’s hard to find a family that did not suffer losses like these in generations past. Cotton Mather, the Puritan minister in late seventeenth century New England, named one of his daughters Abigail. She died. So he gave the same name to the next daughter to be born. She too died. So he named a third daughter Abigail. She survived to adulthood but died giving birth. In all, Cotton Mather—a well-to-do man in a prosperous society—lost thirteen children to worms, diarrhea, measles, smallpox, accidents, and other causes. “A dead child is a sign no more surprising than a broken pitcher or blasted flower,” he said in a sermon, and yet, familiar as it was, death never lost its power to make the living suffer. “The dying of a child is like the tearing of a limb from us,” wrote Increase Mather, Cotton’s father.

Children were especially vulnerable, but not uniquely so. The plague that swept through the homes of the Mordens and Ashtons and so many others is typical in this regard. It was diphtheria, a disease that is particularly deadly to children but can also kill adults. In 1878, the four-year-old granddaughter of Queen Victoria contracted diphtheria and passed it on to her mother, the queen’s daughter. Queen Victoria was wealthy and powerful beyond compare and yet she could do nothing. Both daughter and granddaughter died.

That world is not ours. We still know tragedy and sorrow, of course, but in neither the quantity nor the quality of those who came before us. A century ago, most people would have recognized the disease afflicting Charles Morden (the enlarged neck was particularly notorious). Today, we may have heard the word “diphtheria” once or twice—it comes up when we take our babies into the doctor’s office to get their shots—but few of us know anything about it. Why would we? A vaccine created in 1923 all but eradicated the disease across the developed world and drastically reduced its toll elsewhere.
Really makes one nostalgic for those good old days before vaccines, doesn't it?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I am thankful to live today everyday. We may not have everything 100% but were clearly moving in the right direction. :)
 
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