In 1922, Dr. Haven Emerson sent questionnaires to 1303 physicians, enclosing stamped return envelopes. He asked if their wives were alive (the addressees were all men), and if not, what had killed them. He asked how many children they had, whether any had been stillborn and whether any had died. In his cover letter, he wrote he was investigating whether such deaths were rarer in physicians’ families thanks to “the intimate knowledge of medicine upon which the saving of the lives of mothers and babies depends.” He published his results in April 1924, as “Maternal and Infant Mortality in Physicians’ Families,” in the American Journal of Hygiene.*

From the 1303 questionnaires, 751 sent back their forms, and 709 were married with children. He had data on the deaths of 49 wives, 9 related to pregnancy and childbirth (mainly sepsis and eclampsia). Doctors reported 64 stillbirths and 1910...

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