Abstract: At the turn of the twentieth century, Dr. Martin Couney exhibited premature infants at many world’s fairs and festivals, and at Coney Island and Atlantic City, displayed in their incubators alongside sword swallowers, bearded ladies, and burlesque performers. What may seem bizarre or even grotesque to a modern audience was actually quite innovative; known then as “weaklings,” these previously doomed babies were not allowed in most hospitals, and for desperate families, Dr. Couney was a savior. Dawn Raffel’s book is a mystery about an eccentric, larger-than-life personality, his goals and motivations, and the shadow of his past.
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Sponsored by Creative Nonfiction with support from the Pittsburgh Foundation