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The sun. (New York [N.Y.]) 1916-1920, July 21, 1918, Section 5 Magazine Section, Image 46

Image and text provided by The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundation

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030431/1918-07-21/ed-1/seq-46/

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Dr. Annie Daniel, the East Side's Friend
Ministering Angel
"Tells of Patients'
Gratitude and Pleads
for Better Sanitation
and Care of Children
Modest Little Physi
- cian Adored by the
Poor She Has Aided
' for Years and Hon-
ored by Fellows
AN observer of the East Side, one who
has been watching it with friendly
eyes for forty years, sees its continuous
regeneration. Forty years of observation
Lave registered deeply imbedded impres
sions. That it is not true that the East Sidcr
lives in the congested submerged part of
the city from choice. He wants to escape
those conditions and docs as quickly as be
can. "
Tliat the East Side is not static, bnt
in a state of flux. It is as restless, of
movement as constant, as the sea.
That in forty years she has seen 75
per' cent of the population of the East
Side move to more hygienic and congenial
regions in and about New York.
That the East Side is richer per capita
this year lhan it has ever been before.
Riches in this instance do not mean a
plenitude of possessions, but that state
which is its forerunner, freedom from
That the East Side is ia a continuous
stage of evolution. The third generation
marks the transition into a purely Ameri
can type of good citizen.
That the regions to which the gradu
ated East Sider removes are The Bronx,
Staten Island and New Jersey. -v
Honored by 300 Physicians.
The friend, apologist, counsellor and
guide of the East Side is Dr. Annie
St urges Daniel. At the banquet tendered
her by the women physicians and surgeons
of New York, and at which 300 of the most
eminent healers in the city paid the tribute
of their presence and their speech to her,
Dr. Abraham Jaeobi, who has been called
the Nestor, of the medical profession of
New York, said: "Our distinguished and
unselfish little friend has learned more in
the East Side tenements than have some
of us in Fifth avenue mansions." Dr.
Gertrude Kelly said of her: "So dear has
Dr. Daniel become to the residents of the
East Side that her patients refer in the
same breath and tone to 'God and Dr.
Round the brilliant boardat which sat
men and 'women whose nanus arc house
hold words in the temple of medicine went
the whisper:
"I doh't believe the dear little doctor
ever wasted the time getting into a low
necked frock before."
She looked verjA serious, very sur
prised, a little frightened,, and to her
neighbors at the tabic she said: "I really
don't know why vou are doing all this for
Made Her Understand at Last.
" The three hundred doctors tried to cn
lighten her. By the time they had reached
Bts and coffee they had made her under
stand at least in what light th'ey saw her
uninternptcj minktrations to the crowded
poor in t most congested part of the
largest city i, thc rid. They toasted
her in wine she TOUu not drink as "Thc
Friend of the Poor and "The Ministering
Angel of the East Siat"
"How have you accustouod yourself to
the evil smells?" asked a dainty practi
tioner. "I didn't notice any smells," responded
the little doctor.
"How have you kept your limbs whole
on those rickety stairs V asked a physician
who gos on his professional tours in his
"They were always strong -enough to
bold me," was the reply of the little
"Why have you never tired of work
among thc poor and taken up more lucra
tive practice?" asked many. To all of the
questioners she made the same answer:
"It has always interested me."
"Don't-you grow very tired f"
"I am seldom tired."
She did not quote from thc hospital
records, as others did, that she and her
assistant visited 22,000 homes of sick poor
in New York in one year.
Her official title is head of the outdoor
work of the New York Infirmary for
Womrin and Children. The fine old hos
pital, with sixty-five years of usefulness
bchind it, has been closed by war ex
igencies and pending repairs and the
success of. the $200,000 drive, which it
will begin in the autumn. But the
dispensary is still open and there the
little doctor goes each morning before
she starts on her rounds. The old fash
ioned rectangle of dull red brick, that is
the "shadow" of the two noble sisters,
Elizabeth and Emily Blackwcfl, who
founded it, has sent forth 300 alumna;
from its college. These include Dr. S.'
Josephine Baker, the head of the bureau
of child hygiene of the Health Department
of New York; Dr. Marie Volkstein, who
is with the Rockefeller Institute; Dr.
Sarah J. McXutt, one of its senior physi
cians; Dr. Yamei Kin, the Chinese doctor,
yid Dr. Annie Sturgcs Daniel. It has
sheltered 700 women and new born babies .
each year.
Six Times the Danger of War.
"It is six times more dangerous to be a
baby in a crowded home in New York
than to be a soldier in thc trenches in
France," is the slogan of the female prac
titioners from this the only institution
for and by women in New York. Because
summer is the season of menace to chil
dren Dr. Daniel, friend of the poor and
Understanding Friend of thc East Side,
will take no vacation this summer.
"We're a little anxious about Spanish
influenza,"" said thc little silver haired
woman in black, whose gray eyes and
clear voice are equally direct. "It is not
dangerous, but it is an epidemic and an
annoying one. Influenza may leave so
many weaknesses and tendencies to graver
diseases behind it."
"Vigilant hut hopeful," should be thc
motto on thc Little Doctor's family crest.
1 suspect that she sleeps with one eye
open, in her cosey, a bit old fashioned
apartment near Stuyvcsant Square, where
tney sav they never know when she will
come home n.r how soon she will be away
oirain. Forty year? of vigilance at her
post lias registered in the health and
manner of living of the ilt Side. She
has imprcsed the tenants willi their dutv
to themselves and their children v: not
living in crowded conditions. To her i
due a large part ji the exodus to more
sanitary portions f the city, and sur
rounding country. Landlords she con
fesses she has not deeply impressed save
as a scold. For she admits that the ten
ements are as noisome as ever, a little
fouler, she thinks, this summer. Perhaps
because labor is at a premium.
"I notice a great deal of paper and
rubbish thrown into cellars,"' she says,
"and thc streets have their usual amount
of littering stuff."
But in Dr. Daniel's heart hope is su
preme. She is hopeful of thc future be
cause she has witnessd thc evolution ot
the East Side in thc past
"Since I began my out of door prac
tice, as it is called at the infirmary, I have
seen three-fourths of the population move
away. The families have gone as soon
as they could. Once on their feet, that is
r.ut of debt, and with enough money to
pay for the moving, they emigrate to
more healthful environment. It is a cruel
untruth that they prefer to stay on the
East Side. Not one of them does. Their
'chief thought is to pay what they owe
' so that they can get to a more healthful
spot to bring up their children. I know
no exception to this save among parents
who are so sick that thev have lost all
"Arc times better or worse on thc East
Side since the wart" I asked.
"They are better. I sec an improve
- ment in the condition of most. of the fam
ilies. There have been fewer evictions
this year. Families have been able to
pay old debts. They arc at least 'even.'
That does not mean that they have any
thing uhcad, but it is wealth to them to
he rid of thc burden of debt. Some fam
ilies are bnying Liberty bonds by paying
a dollar a week for them."
"You have been called the friend of
the immigrant. You see no danger in the
influx of strange peoples t"
"I am the friend of the immigrant be
cause I have watched him develop. He
constitutes) no menace to this country.
The -third generation of his family can
he guaranteed to be a purely American
type of citizen. I have watched families
grow up to new standards. The first gen
eration might rear its children and die
in the environment of thc East Side. But
thc struggle to get out of it was manifest
in the second. Sometimes thc second gen
eration has struggled up and out of the
congestion and taken new root in The
IJronx or in Staten Island or in New
Jersey. But the third generation is guar
anteed to live and flourish in better soil
than that between thc Bowery and East
River, Fourteenth stsect and Brooklyn
Boy Became Member of the Bar.
"Some typical instances recur to me.
T was in the Supreme Court Building one
daj on some legal business. A dark eyed,
dark li.-ired. oung man came up to me
and said: 'You don't remember me, Dr.
Daniel, but 111 never forget you. You
attended my father apd mother fifteen
years ago on Forsythc ktreet.' I recalled
the name as soon as he mentioned it.
They had been immigrants. Their battle
to get on in the new land had been hard.
I recalled the boy, bright eyed, energetic,
keenly alert. I asked about his parents.
Slowly but surely conditions had improved
for them, and they had disappeared
from the East Side. He told mo his father
had died. "But mother is splendid.' He took
a picture of her from Ids wallet and showed
it to me. She was tVearing n fine silk gown
and a broad collar that looked as though it
were real lace. 'I'm taking care of her,' ho
told me with pride. He was a lawyer with
a' good practice. He was waiting to try
a case in thc Supreme Court that day.
I went into the court room to watch his
handling of it. The Judge complimented
him for the thorough manner in which he
did it."
"Are your patients grateful V
"Nearly always. There was that young
couple who married two years ago. I had
attended the parents of both. They lived
across a dark hall from each other, this
boy and girl. She went into a store as
soon as she could get working papers. So
did he. Because they were intelligent and
industrious both did well. Like all of the
young folk of the East Side they help'ed
the folks at home. They waited until they
had helped their families Uito better homes
and greater comfort before they became
engaged. The day before they were mar
ried they came to me and said : 'Dr. Dan
iel, we have heard you say that you cams
from Buffalo and that your parents are
buried there. Will you tell us their
names!' I did, and talked to them of my
girlhood before I came to thc College of
the Woman's Hospital.
Houored Her Father and Mother.
"They said they were going to Niagara
Falls for their wedding tAp and that they
would be sightseeing in Buffalo. While
they were there thc bride wrote me that
they had visited the cemetery and laid
flowers on father's and mother's graves.
"One day I tried to cross Fourth ave
nue. Twice I had to dodge thc same au
tomobile. I looked up at the driver and
saw a friendly face laughing at me, and
realized that thc manoeuvres of thc auto
mobile were deliberate. I stopped. The
man at thc wheel laughed.
" 'You don't remember me, of course,
Dr. Daniel. But, thirty years ago you
treated my father and mother, who were
poor immigrants. You may be sure I
haven't forgotten you.'
"You sec, if year after year I were
treating the same families I might be dis
couraged about tbeir progress, but X
don't. Or if I had the children and
grandchildren of those I used to treat
lm should become despondent for the fu
ture of the East Siders, but I don't. The
poor immigrants of forty years ago are
well to do persons and taxpayers of to
day, or their children are. Every one of
tlicm is worth the chance we giv? him."
"What arc thc worst menaces of the
East Side!"
Crowds to Lessen Shortly.
"The crowded and unsanitary conditions
of living and home manufactures," she
answered. "Since thc landlords show no
signs of relenting the hope of the cmi-
grant is the exodus. With more and more
means of rapid transit you will sec the
crowds on the East Side lessening.
"The other menace of home manufac
ture is harder to check. We have been
trying to meet it with legislation, but the
last bill was left in the committee at Al
bany. Home manufacturing is serious,
because wherever it exists there is sure
to behild labor. Children about 3 years
of ag?are kept at work for four or five
hours at a stretch."
"What can such a baby do that is
gainful V
"Sew buttoas and make artificial flowers.
I had a case of a child of 3. It had suf
fered in the typhoid epidemic. As soon
as it was able to sit up it was put to work.
Not being strong enough to sew on but
tons they put it at threading needles. It
threaded needles for its elders until it
"I found one baby 18 months old help
ing its mother make artificial flowers.
The. child assorted the cut forms from
which thc flowers were made. I had two
eases of infantile paralysis in which both
victims, though slowly dying, were at
work. I remember a child of 18 months
who earned 50 cents a day for its family
Continued on following page.) J

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