Martha Ballard

Title

Martha Ballard

Subject

Midwifery

Description

Late 18th c. midwife whose diary gives insight into this important field for women

Creator

Amy French

Source

Image: frontispiece from The Complete Midwife's Companion, public domain

Birth Date

1734

Birthplace

Oxford, Massachusetts, USA

Death Date

1812

Occupation

Midwife

Biographical Text

Although many might say that a woman functioning as a midwife was acting within her cultural confines, midwifery allowed women power in society not typically afforded them. They often acted as physicians—ministering to non-pregnant women as well as those with child. Moreover, there was a legal component to the job. They recorded births, deaths, and parentage. When a woman gave birth out of wedlock, the name of the father declared by the mother during labor was recorded by the midwife. The midwife's record of parentage was used to hold men responsible for the care of their offspring. Martha Ballard left behind a comprehensive diary from which we know more about her life and her profession.

Bibliography

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. "A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard based on her diary, 1785–1812." (Vintage Books, Random House Publishers, 1991)

A Midwife's Tale, PBS, American Experience series.

Martha Ballard's diary online: http://dohistory.org/

Files

The_complete_midwife's_companion.jpg

Social Bookmarking

Date Added
June 12, 2014
Collection
Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics
Item Type
Person
Tags
, ,
Citation
Amy French, “Martha Ballard,” Women Who Dared, accessed November 22, 2019, https://womenwhodared.omeka.net/items/show/40.