The cover of The Illustrated Police News
Published June 25, 1870
The stories illustrated on the cover include a woman who died as a result of tight lacing on her corset, and an investigation into a baby farm which revealed the bodies of at least two children.
Corsets have been used for centuries to achieve a trim waistline. When fashion took corset lacing to an extreme, the garment would be pulled so tight the wearer’s ribs were shifted and internal organs compressed. For unfortunate women such as the one depicted in this issue of The Illustrated Police News, the abdomen was compressed too much and the wearer experienced a loss of breath, unconsciousness, or death.
Baby farms were establishments meant to house and raise children who were temporarily or permanently placed by their parents. A fee was paid at the time the children were given to the farms, meant to pay for food, clothing, and other necessities. If the child left the farms quickly enough, the fees paid by the parents outweighed the costs to raise the children. Because of this, many of the baby farms would mistreat, neglect, or murder (as seen here) those in their care to turn a profit.