History of The Cradle

The Cradle has a long history in adoption services. The Cradle was founded in 1923 by Florence Dahl Walrath. Mrs. Walrath was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1877. Shortly after her graduation from North Division High School, Florence married William Bradley Walrath, an attorney. They lived in Evanston and had four children. In 1914, Florence began her work in adoption through a personal encounter when her sister lost a child at birth. Mrs. Walrath put her wits, as well as her sympathies, to work and found a child whose mother was compelled by circumstances to place her baby with an adoptive family. Because of her success in this endeavor, other childless couples she knew asked her for her help, and a few years later, she founded The Cradle.

Famous Cradle Families

In the early years, adoptive families from all over the country applied to The Cradle to adopt children. Some of the more famous adoptive parents include entertainers George Burns and Gracie Allen, Bob Hope, Al Jolson, Donna Reed, Pearl Buck and Gale Sayers.

  • The Cradle's original nursery from the 1930's.

  • Receiving room from The Cradle circa 1940 where adopting parents would meet their child for the first time.

  • Just one of the many photos of families that adorn The Cradle walls. This picture of a mom and her daughters is from the 1950's.

  • Our nursery from 1950's was a respected nationwide as establishing best practices in infant care.

  • From 1923 - 72 we ran an Infant Nursing School. Graduates went on to care for infants in our nursery. Pictured : class of '61.

  • In more recent years, The Cradle's services have extended to helping families adopt internationally.

  • Ardythe and Gale Sayers Center at The Cradle is dedicated to meeting the adoption needs of the African American community.