Center Chronicles 20th Century Midwives

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The award-winning Center for Public History at UWG is collecting items and artifacts to document the history of 20th century midwife folk traditions and culture for a groundbreaking research project.

The award-winning Center for Public History at UWG is collecting items and artifacts to document the history of 20th century midwife folk traditions and culture for a groundbreaking research project. Under the direction of historians Dr. Ann McCleary and Dr. Keith S. Hébert, students will collect and document clothing and items including midwife bags, quilts used for childbirth and bottles. Unique recipes of midwives’ homemade salves, good luck charms and retirement badges will also be a valuable historical resource.

Other items that will prove valuable in this research project are midwifery hats, dresses and aprons, and documents such as midwives’ permit applications, certificates, letters, journals, diaries and photographs.  

“By 1930, about 80 percent of the midwives were living and practicing in the South,” said McCleary. “Yet we have found that the objects and artifacts pertaining to midwives’ folk traditions are extremely scarce and underrepresented in historical museums, houses and archives.”

Interested individuals have the option of either donating or temporarily loaning the objects to the Public History Center. Community members may schedule an appointment with researchers to photograph or make copies or their items or provide an interview for the Center’s oral history collection. Contributors will receive full acknowledgement in any CPH publication.

“In history, any object or artifact, even an ordinary object, is important to tell stories that otherwise will be forgotten,” explained Hébert.

To contribute or to make an appointment, contact McCleary at 678-839-6141 or e-mail amcclear@westga.edu.  For more information on the undergraduate and graduate degree programs in public history, visit http://www.westga.edu/pubhistory/.