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Our babies

In 1920 May Gibbs received one of the most important commissions of her career, when the NSW Department of Public Health asked her to design a promotional poster for its first Baby Week.

Gibbs would more than fulfil the brief, producing one of her largest artistic works and, arguably, her most celebrated and recognisable image: Dr Stork and Mrs Kookaburra.

The 'Dr Stork and Mrs Kookaburra' poster was an immediate success and had enduring popularity. 

To create this now iconic image, Gibbs took the traditional nursery tale notion of a newborn baby's delivery by stork and gave it an Australian twist with her addition of a kookaburra and gumleaf borders.   

The Public Health Department's Division of Maternal Welfare was keen to encourage mothers to attend the baby clinics then being established across the state. A smaller version of the poster was produced for widespread display anywhere that might catch the public eye. 

In 1931, when the Public Health Department issued its first handbook for mothers, Our Babies, its first handbook for mothers, this iconic image was used as the cover illustration, and it remained in use until 1959.

Lone Hand

Volume 16: Original drawings and sketches for The Sydney Mail; cartoons; Ballet Costumes, 1889 / by May Gibbs
Digital ID: 
a6005026
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Volume 01/iii: Illustrations for Flannel flowers and other bush babies / by May Gibbs
1917
Digital ID: 
a5243002
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Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
Digital ID: 
a1745015
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Volume 01/iii: Illustrations for Flannel flowers and other bush babies / by May Gibbs
Digital ID: 
a5243006
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Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
Digital ID: 
a1745148
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Volume 01/iii: Illustrations for Flannel flowers and other bush babies / by May Gibbs
1917
Digital ID: 
a5243011
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Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
Digital ID: 
a1745017
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Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
Digital ID: 
a1745060
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Patriotic postcards

Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
Digital ID: 
a1745206
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Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
May Gibbs
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Digital ID: 
a1745183
Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
May Gibbs
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Digital ID: 
a1745030
Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
May Gibbs
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Digital ID: 
a1745212
Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
May Gibbs
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Digital ID: 
a1745201
Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
May Gibbs
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Digital ID: 
a1745009
Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
May Gibbs
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Digital ID: 
a1745236
Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
May Gibbs
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Digital ID: 
a1745039
Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
May Gibbs
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Digital ID: 
a1745036
Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
May Gibbs
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Digital ID: 
a1745037
Volume 11: Illustrations for cards, bookmarks, clothing, furniture, etc. / compiled by May Gibbs
undated
May Gibbs
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Digital ID: 
a1745138

This story has been developed with the support of the NSW Library Foundation

Made possible through a partnership with the Nutcote Trust and Graham & Charlene Bradley, and various benefactors.

© The Northcott Society and Cerebral Palsy Alliance 2016

For further information on  May Gibbs please visit the May Gibbs website