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The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Local History, Newspapers

Baby Give Away


 This startling article appeared in the Lebanon Rustic newspaper April 22, 1926.

Red Arrow Stores will give baby away.

“According to an announcement made yesterday by J. H. Easley, head of the Red Arrow Club, on Saturday, May 1st, a live baby will be given away free. Mr. Easley stated that this baby is not an orphan but that its parents are giving it away because they are unable to properly support it and give it the education that the average baby of today is entitled to receive.

“Mr. Easley stated that in finding a home for this healthy baby, the Red Arrow Club would be doing a good deed for one of Laclede County’s youngest citizens. Just at present the parents of this baby are not giving their name to the public on account of the embarrassing questions that might be asked.

“While it is the policy of the Lebanon Rustic to support all charitable acts, we feel that the action of the Red Arrow Club in giving a real live baby is some that should not be allowed because of the fact it is not morally right.”

This was followed by a small article in the May 6 edition:

“A great many people were certainly mistaken in the meaning of the advertising inserted by the Red Arrow Club, recently, when they said they were going to give away a live baby. Many persons thought that the club meant a human being but Saturday brought forth the fact that it was only a live pig and not a small mite of humanity.”

A search of using the phrase “live baby given” shows that this advertising stunt was used from Hawaii to Washington D. C. and Winnipeg Canada to Fort Pierce, Florida. This promotion was used over a long period of time, starting in the early 1900s and used into the 1950s. The live babies given away were not always pigs. The Belvidere Illinois Daily Republican reported a “live baby” give away to celebrate the opening of the South State Street pavement. The baby proved to be a fox terrier puppy complete with cradle.  However, an advertisement in the Fort Scott Daily Tribune announced that it was giving away a “live baby” at a theater that was “not a pig, rabbit or chicken.” There did not appear to be a follow up letting the public know what the "live baby" actually was, but it shows that the public was catching on to the deception.

If you would like to look up more examples of this advertiseing stunt, visit the library's subscription to  The advertisement with the stork is for a grocery store and appeared in the Times Record, Troy, New York in 1950.

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