Friends of Day Nursery gathered Friday afternoon in the Alverna Estates home of Day Nursery board member Donna Oklak to unveil “Leading the Way,” a historical booklet about the Day Nursery Association of Indianapolis and to celebrate our 110th anniversary. Day Nursery Executive Director Carolyn Dederer welcomed past presidents of the Day Nursery Foundation, Auxiliary and Association. In the past several years, Day Nursery has revived the Silver Tea events that were popular in the early days of our agency. Here’s a bit of our history, compiled by Weintraut and Associates.
Beginning in 1890, the King’s Daughters Society outfitted under-privileged children and provided food baskets for the needy in the “rapidly growing community.” By 1899, these women began focusing on the need that working mothers had for child care. Day Nurseries had been started in several large cities, and the King’s Daughters embraced the idea of establishing one in Indianapolis. One of the founders, Grace Wood, said, “We had no money, no experience in organization, but we had plenty of enthusiasm.”
With what was surely radical thinking in Indianapolis at that time, the Society opened their day nursery. A room was rented at 911 West Washington Street. Friends donated a stove and furnishings for the comfort of the first patrons – a deserted mother and baby. They lived in the room and received milk and food. Later, another employed mother brought her baby to be cared for and was charged five cents per day for the service. Recognizing that their child care services had to be affordable, the fee was modest and supplemented by the Society’s “silver offering” teas. The fee, together with the gifts the Society solicited, provided the funds that supported the small care center. As the use of the service increased, the center was moved to 521 West Walnut.