Nathan Strauss — the man who saved half a million American children with milkBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/nathan-strauss-the-man-who-saved-half-a-million-american-children-with-milk
Nathan Strauss is one of the most famous merchants in American history. As a co-owner and founder of the Macy's and Abraham & Straus chain stores and one of the most successful businessmen of his time, he spent almost all of his personal capital to help the poor of New York. He gave most children a chance to survive — pasteurized milk. In the late XIX — early XX century, infant mortality in New York was high, including due to poor milk.
At that time, pasteurization of milk was not just not thought about, but even considered it harmful to the product and a useless transfer of money. Strauss had many obstacles, but by the end of his life, 297 dairy pasteurization stations were built with his money in 36 US cities.
The impetus for the new activity was a family tragedy — during a trip to Europe, Strauss and his wife Lina Gurhertz's newborn daughter dies due to poor milk. Later, an apparently perfectly healthy cow died on the Strauss farm, and an autopsy showed that the animal had tuberculosis. The couple begin to finance research and the opening of laboratories for pasteurization of milk from their personal savings.
One of Strauss's dairy stations in New York. Milk was bottled in clean bottles and sold at a minimum price. Those who could not afford it were given coupons.
Strauss understands that children get infected from infected cows and die. And that the technology developed in the 1860s by Louis Pasteur, according to which it was necessary to heat the milk and then quickly cool it, would destroy dangerous microorganisms and protect the milk.
Strauss began to build dairy stations in poor areas of New York and to ensure that all milk sold was subjected to the pasteurization process. In 1891, 24% of children born in New York died before they were a year old. And of the 20,111 children who were fed Nathan Strauss pasteurized milk, only six died.
In 1898 Strauss became president of the city's health department and immediately donated pasteurization equipment to the city orphanage. Across the country, 297 dairy stations were installed in 36 cities. Child mortality in the country fell from 125 per thousand in 1891 to 15 in 1925. In total, according to some historians, Strauss saved the lives of 445,800 children.
During the economic depression of 1893, Strauss used dairy stations to sell coal at the lowest prices. Those who could not pay received coal for free. Strauss also opened houses with furnished rooms for 64 thousand people, where breakfast was served for five cents, and organized 50 thousand dinners for one cent. Strauss noticed that two subordinates at his company Abraham & Straus were starving to save money and feed their family, so he opened the first company-paid canteen.
In 1911, Nathan Strauss was elected a delegate from the United States to the International Congress for the Protection of Children in Berlin, and was also a delegate to the Congress against Childhood Tuberculosis in Rome.