The National Alliance for the Growth of the French Population (ANAPF) was formed in 1896, and the Cognacq-Jay and other prizes were created for the parents of large families.
Émile Zola's 1899 novel Fécondité is representative of contemporary concerns about the birthrate.
French concerns about the country's slow population growth began after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War.
For four years in the 1890s, the number of deaths exceeded the number of births.
If France's population had grown at the same rate as that of England and Wales (which was also siphoned off by emigration to the Americas, Australia and New Zealand), France's population could have been as much as 150 million in 2000.
The 1.3 million French deaths in World War I, along with even more births forgone by potential fathers being off at war, caused a drop of 3 million in the French population, and helped make Dénatalité a national obsession; by 1920 ANAPF had 40,000 members.
The society proposed that parents of large families receive extra votes, and the belief that women's suffrage in other countries caused birth rates to decline helped defeat proposals before World War II to permit women to vote.
The slow growth of France's population in the 19th century was reflected in the country's very low emigration rate.
The French population only grew by 8.6% between 18, while Germany's grew by 60% and Britain's by 54%.