CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

At a time when the subject of children’s health records is being reflected upon, the author wishes to show the seniority of this device in France. The idea goes back to the end of the Second Empire when a doctor in Montpellier published a booklet destined for mothers so they could take notes on their children’s health. In this way, the doctor wanted to improve his diagnosis and treatment of young patients and educate their mothers at the same time.Many different models of this notebook would be made starting in 1880, and it would remain personal property until the public authorities took an interest in it: they advocated its use in the 1935 decree, but it wouldn’t become mandatory until the laws on maternal and infantile protection were passed in 1942 and 1945. That is themoment when the notebooks ceased to be strictly part of the private sphere because doctors would write their observations in them and the public authorities imposed a specific model. Shortly thereafter, health certificates would be added to them. The study of several notebooks before WWII shows that parents, mothers, in fact, use them in different ways, sometimes far removed from just the intended health use. A short outline of international comparison indicates that the French health record is at the intersection of several objectives: a health biography, parental education, immunization records, and epidemiological analysis.

Catherine Rollet
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