In 1932 — the depths of the Depression — the University of Chicago’s hospital lowered its rates for delivering babies. The new price: $55, for a 10-day stay in a 4-person room.
A little child wrote the hospital. In careful, misspelled cursive, she said:
If i send you $55 will you send us our baby cause our baby aint come yet an i wont wone.
It was signed M. Adams, Westport.
The letter reached Jessie F. Christie, a nurse and superintendent of what was then called the Chicago Lying-in Hospital and Dispensary.
I am sorry we cannot sent you a baby for $55.00. You would have to send your mother to us before any arrangement could be made. The stork will only fly for mothers, not for little boys or girls. I think it is a very poor arrangement but it is one we cannot alter. I hope your own baby will come soon.
The letter — addressed to “Miss or Master M. Adams, Westport, Connecticut” — never got here. The post office returned it, due to insufficient address.
For nearly a century, the yellowed letters were tucked away in a University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences filing cabinet. Now — 82 years later — they’ve been found.
UC news office assistant director Ashley Heher asked the Westport Library for help. Jaina Lewis checked historical records. She found a listing for an Adams family in 1930. But the only child whose name started with “M” was 19 years old.
Bridgeport’s 1940 records show a Marjorie Adams, age 16. That would make her 8 in 1932. No younger children are listed in 1940. But her mother was 39 in 1932 — meaning she would have been at high risk if pregnant.
Now that the letter has been discovered, Chicago officials want closure. So they reached out to “06880” for help.
If you have any information about M. Adams — or his or her mother or sibling — contact Ashley.Heher@uchospitals.edu.
And tell “06880.” This is our mystery now too.
(Click on the University of Chicago blog “Science Life” for more details.)