Our History

Wesley Jenkins, Executive Director

The history of Babyland began after the summer riots of 1967 in Newark, New Jersey. Mary Palmer Smith along with her sister Martha Palmer Chaneyfield launched grassroots efforts to address the poor living conditions of its tenants. Together they led a coalition of suburban and inner-city housewives, calling themselves Operation Housewives, to advocate for low-income parents who did not have access to childcare. This coalition of women, along with a $1,000 loan from the Telephone Pioneers of America, thrift shop sales, Girl Scouts, volunteers, and a pediatrician, established Babyland Nursery in August 1968 as the first and largest nonprofit interracial infant childcare program in the state of New Jersey.


Our remarkable history, surpassed only by our future.

  • 1968 Babyland Nursery established as the first Infant Childcare program in NJ
  • 1979 Babyland Domestic Violence Shelter created as Essex Countyís 1st family violence program
  • 1989 Established one of nationís 1st childcare programs for infants infected with AIDS/HIV
  • 1993 Babylandís Children Together Foster Care Program, specializing in sibling groups, became the first of its kind in Essex County

As long as there are children and parents to be served, we will continue our work to create a better future for these families.

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