Meet the Author
Helen MacMurchy (7 January 1862–8 October 1953) was a Canadian doctor, author, and advocate for public health initiatives. She was also a notorious eugenicist who supported the segregation and sexual sterilization of people who were dubbed "feeble-minded." Born and raised in Toronto, MacMurchy graduated from the University of Toronto in 1901 with First Class Honours in Medicine and Surgery. She spent the next decade working at Johns Hopkins Hospital, her own private practice, and the Toronto Board of Education. MacMurchy was appointed as the Inspector of the Feeble-Minded by the Ontario government in 1913 and in this role, advocated for the institutionalization and sterilization of men and women suffering from a variety of mental, developmental, and intellectual disorders.
Beginning in 1914, MacMurchy wrote weekly articles for the Canadian Countryman magazine, occasionally discussing topics such as food and cookery. She was recruited by the federal government to oversee the Department of Health in 1920, the publication of the Little Blue Books, and the writing of other influential books, such as The Canadian Mother’s Book (1921). MacMurchy was considered by many to be one of Canada’s most prominent authorities on public health reform, infant and mother health, and food science education during the later 19th and early 20th centuries. It is likely that MacMurchy did not write the Little Blue Books herself and, instead, staff from the Department of Health composed the books and published them under her name.