Brighton born, Sussex bred: the story of Brighton’s maternity hospitals, 1830-2007, by Harry Gaston

Brighton born, Sussex bred: the story of Brighton's maternity homes

This book by Harry Gaston, a local historian, has recently been published. According to the blurb, “Brighton Born, Sussex Bred shows how maternity care has developed over the last 200 years in Brighton and Hove and nationally … Fully illustrated, the book includes the experiences of mothers and midwives from the 1950’s to 1980’s as they tell  their birth stories.”

The book is on sale via the Friends of Brighton and Hove Hospitals at £12.00 per copy including postage and packing: please order using this form.

 

Recently published: A social history of maternity and childbirth: key themes in maternity care, by Tania McIntosh

A Social History of Maternity and ChildbirthPublished 5th March 2012 by Routledge – 188 pages

This new work considers the significance of the regulation and training of midwives and doctors, exploring important aspects of maternity care including efforts to tackle maternal deaths, the move of birth from home to hospital, and the rise of consumer groups. Using oral histories and women’s memoirs, as well as local health records and contemporary reports and papers, this book explores the experiences of women and families, and includes the voices of women, midwives and doctors.

Key themes are discussed throughout, including:
•the work and status of the midwife
•the place of birth
•pain relief
•ante- and post-natal care
•women’s pressure groups
•high-tech versus low-tech
•political pressures.

At a time when the midwifery profession, and the wider structure of maternity care, is a matter for popular and political debate, this book is a timely contribution.

Tania McIntosh is the Secretary of De Partu.

From here to maternity: Lakeside explores the history of having babies

MODERN mothers-to-be in Nottinghamshire might debate the merits of a home birth versus a hospital delivery, but for their grandmothers or great-grandmothers, the choice simply didn’t exist.

A new exhibition, Mothers And Midwives: A History Of Maternity in the East Midlands, at Lakeside Arts Centre, looks at the reasons for this dramatic change, and the impact it has had on women, families, midwives and communities in the region.

The FREE exhibition runs from 13 January to 15 April with lunchtime talks in January, February and March to amplify themes explored in the display.

The experience of having a baby has changed dramatically over the last hundred years. It has moved from a social and domestic occurrence, attended by a sole neighbourhood midwife, to a more medicalised one which predominantly occurs in hospital. Midwives still deliver about 70% of all babies born and are usually the only professional in attendance.

The exhibition explores the development through historical and contemporary sources, covering issues surrounding pregnancy, birth, and the early weeks of caring for an infant. There are historic midwifery records, photographs, and equipment relating to midwifery and baby care. Historic material from the Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham provides extracts from published sources as well as letters and diaries on the subject, and reveals illuminating archives of medical understanding and accepted practice from earlier times.

A series of talks throughout the exhibition will draw on the firsthand experiences of those who have delivered babies in a very different era, as well as offer insights from historical experts.

Shona Powell, director of Lakeside, said: ‘This fascinating exhibition traces the evolution of our experiences of giving birth in the 20th and 21st centuries. The customs and decisions around how we bring babies into the world is such a lively topic for debate in every generation. It’s so interesting to see how we’ve moved from putting this momentous event in the hands of someone familiar to us in our home, to a risk-averse attitude where we have the advantages and interventions of modern medicine – but it can become more depersonalised. I think younger visitors will be amazed at how much has changed in such a short space of time. The exhibition will be a must-see for parents and anyone with an interest in our local social history.’

Dr Tania McIntosh, a lecturer in midwifery at the University of Nottingham who has worked with Manuscripts and Special Collections to develop the exhibition, explained: ‘Pregnancy and birth are universal experiences and this exhibition taps into that by showcasing the many different types of evidence which can help to tell the story of birth through the ages.  It is also important to collect material relating to very domestic issues such as birth; they are as important to our understanding of society as wars or revolutions.  If you are inspired by the exhibition to search your cupboards or attics for family photos or papers about birth, or have your own story to tell, then we would be very interested in hearing from you.’

The lunchtime talks will be:

Infant Welfare

Wednesday January 18

Dr Denise Amos, researcher for the Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway and co-curator of ‘Mothers and Midwives’ examines the patterns and causes for the significant number of infant deaths at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century in three East Midlands towns: Nottingham, Leicester and Derby.

From Home To Hospital

Wednesday February 15

Using contemporary records, pictures and interviews, Dr Tania McIntosh, principal curator of ‘Mothers And Midwives,’ explores the changing experience of birth in the 20th century and the reasons why it became a medical rather than domestic event.

Midwifery In the District

Wednesday March 14

Julia Allison, former district midwife in Nottingham, past-President of the Royal College of Midwives and author of ‘Delivered At Home’, a history of district midwifery in Nottingham, will talk about the development of district midwifery and the experience of having a baby ‘on the district’. 

Places for the talks are limited, so please book your tickets as soon as possible with the Box Office on 0115 8467777.

The exhibition runs from now until Sunday 15 April and is free to visit. It is open from 11 am-4 pm Monday to Friday, and 12 noon-4 pm Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays (but closed Easter Sunday). It is at the Weston Gallery, DH Lawrence Pavilion, University of Nottingham.

International Confederation of Midwives records now available

The cataloguing of the records of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) is now completed and the catalogue is available online at the Wellcome Library, reference SA/ICM.

The ICM is at the forefront of international policy development to influence and promote midwifery at global and national levels, and to pro-actively support international strategies to improve maternal and child health, for the achievement of ‘Safe Motherhood’ for all women.

More on this story from the Wellcome Library blog …

THE FOETUS GOES PUBLIC: images of the unborn from the Middle Ages to the 21st century

The Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease is delighted to announce a forthcoming exhibition: 

An exhibition of the history of the public images of embryos and foetuses will take place in the Holliday Building at Durham University’s Queen’s Campus in Stockton-on-Tees from Friday 7th October until Friday 9th December. 

The Foetus Goes Public looks at how images of embryos and foetuses shape our understanding of life and reproduction.  This exhibition tells the fascinating story of how the foetus moved from obscure medieval manuscripts to become a public icon in the twentieth century that, today, is available to everyone at any time through the internet. 

Dr Lutz Sauerteig from the Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease will officially open the exhibition on 7th October at 1.30 pm. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of public lectures :

Prof John McLachlan (School of Medicine and Health), ‘Imagining the Embryo’ (21 October, 12.45pm, Holliday Building, Room A011).

Dr Nadja Reissland (Department of Psychology), ‘Fetal Crying: Is the Fetal Cry Face Gestalt Associated with Prenatal Depression and Attachment?’ (11 November, 10.00 am, Wolfson Research Institute, Room F009).

Dr Sebastian Pranghofer (CHMD and Department of Philosophy), ‘Personhood Before Birth? Early Modern Images of the Unborn’ (25 November, 12.45pm, Holliday Building, Room A015/016). 

Entry to the exhibition and the lectures is free. 

For more information, contact Rachel Simpson on telephone 0191 3340700, email: rachel.simpson@durham.ac.uk or visit http://www.dur.ac.uk/chmd/

Best wishes 

Rachel Simpson

Administrator/Outreach Officer
Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease
Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University
Queen’s Campus, University Boulevard
Stockton-on-Tees TS17 6BH
Tel: 0191 334 0700

Royal College of Midwives archives now searchable via the Archives Hub

A message from the Project Archivist at the RCOG , Clare Sexton:

The top-level descriptions of organisational records of the Royal College of Midwives are now searchable via the Archives Hub: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/.

This is the direct link to the overview to the collection –  http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1538rcm

Kind regards,

Clare Sexton
Project Archivist

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
27 Sussex Place
Regents Park
London
NW1 4RG

020 7772 6263

Good news – RCM archives accessible again after more than three years in storage

The RCM has now transferred its archives and library books to the RCOG library in Regent’s Park, London.

The archives have been catalogued, and anyone wishing to view the material is invited to contact the temporary archivist, Clare Sexton, at the RCOG.

The draft catalogue is now available to De Partu members via the Members’ area of the website.

Some of the De Partu steering group members were recently invited to the RCOG,  and enjoyed viewing some of the material. Clare is working on some resource guides to the collection that will soon appear on the RCOG website: http://www.rcog.org.uk/what-we-do/information-services/resource-information.

Some of the speakers: Professor Cathy Warwick, Dr Janette Allotey, Professor Helen King and Canon Julia Allison, with Claire Sexton (temporary archivist who has catalogued the RCM archives). Launch of the Royal College of Midwives archives at the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists library, Sussex Place, Regent's Park, London. November 4th 2011.

The collection is now completely accessible to RCM members. Others are welcome to view them in the reading room at the RCOG by prior arrangement. Clare can arrange for items to be retrieved in advance of your visit.

The catalogue will soon be freely available via the Archives Hub: http://archiveshub.ac.uk.

‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ episode 21/09/11

We are informed that the Robin Gibb episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ will now be shown on Wednesday 21st September 2011 at 21:00. This is due to changes being made to the schedules by the BBC.

Wall to Wall Media (the producers) hope that you will be tuning in.

The company has expressed thanks to De Partu  and members of the MIDWIFERY-HISTORY JISCmail list for the assistance given to the researchers for the Robin Gibb episode, in which one of Robin’s ancestors, who was a midwife in Salford, is to be featured.

'Who do you think you are?' programme dates autumn 2011

 

Of men-midwives, murderers, and historians …

The work of Don Shelton, featured in his article ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 103 (2010) 46–50., where he claims that the eighteenth-century men-midwives William Smellie and William Hunter had women murdered to order, to provide the illustrations for their impressive atlases of obstetrics, has given rise to considerable controversy.

Helen King discusses his work in a recent article ‘History WIthout  Historians? Medical History and the Internet‘, Social History of Medicine, published online ahead of print 8th June 2011, which she has based on a paper delivered at the De Partu colloquium held in Manchester in June 2010.  She argues that Shelton’s claims raise fresh questions about how medical history is generated, presented and evaluated in the media and, in particular, on the internet. She traces the generation and subsequent reception of what, for some, has now become a ‘historical fact’, in order to illustrate how attempts by medical historians to engage with policy and with the public exist alongside a shift towards the deprofessionalisation of history.

 

 

 

Bob Woods RIP

Regrettably, I have been informed that Bob Woods, John Rankin Professor of Geography at the University of Liverpool, has died. Some of you will have met him last year. Bob became an active supporter of De Partu in 2009. He attended the first annual lecture and was involved as an ‘expert’ at the first colloquium. His academic interests included historical demography and trends in fetal mortality, and his publications included Death before Birth (2009).
I have included below a link to Bob’s obituary from Liverpool University, kindly sent by Julia Allison.
RIP Bob.
Janette Allotey

 

De Partu at ICM 2011

De Partu at ICM 2011
De Partu at ICM 2011

Dr Tania McIntosh, Secretary of De Partu (centre) with Professor Billie Hunter, member of De Partu Steering Group (right) and Dr Jayne Marshall, first member of De Partu, in front of poster at the ICM in Durban, South Africa, 19-23 June 2011

The history of midwifery was well represented at the conference with not only the poster advertising our work, but an oral history workshop run by Billie and Tania, and a paper given by Tania on the history of English district midwifery.  The workshop was over-subscribed, and generated a real buzz about the possibilities of history.  Several people talked of using oral history, as well as written sources, to explore the history of indigenous and traditional midwives.

“They gave us hope again”: Dachau concentration camp memorial site

On the 29th of April, which is the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp, the exhibition “They gave us hope again” was opened at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. The exhibition is dedicated to an historical aspect of the Dachau Concentration Camp which has received only little consideration hitherto: the fate of female prisoners, among whom there were also pregnant women. Between December 1944 and February 1945, seven Jewish women brought children into the world amidst the terror at Kaufering I, a satellite camp of the Dachau Concentration Camp – all of them survived.

While pregnancies were not uncommon in concentration camps, women and their children were usually murdered. In order to clarify the exceptionality of these seven mothers surviving in the murderous concentration camp system, the exhibition implements the stories of the persecution of these women in historical context.

The biographies of the women are presented in seven parts: life before deportation, arrival and imprisonment at the concentration camps Auschwitz and Plaszów, transfer to the Dachau satellite camps, their experiences as female prisoners, the discovery and handling of their pregnancy and the births of their children at Kaufering I, the conduct of the SS, the evacuation of the camp and their liberation in Dachau as well as their lives after the Holocaust. All seven women were from Hungary or from regions annexed by Hungary and were already pregnant at the time of their deportation. They survived the selection process at Auschwitz and other concentration camps until arriving at the Dachau satellite camp Kaufering I in early December 1944, after discovering the pregnancy. They brought their children into the world there under catastrophic conditions.

After giving birth, the mothers Eva Fleischmannovà, Sara Grün, Ibolya Kovács, Elisabeth Legmann, Dora Löwy, Magda Schwartz and Miriam Rosenthal formed a so-called Schwangerenkommando (pregnant unit) and were forced to work in the prisoners’ laundry. As late as 13 March 1945, the head SS camp physician at the Dachau Concentration Camp issued an order for the mothers to be transferred to the Bergen-Belsen death camp. The order, however, was not carried out.

The exhibition can be visited from 30th April 2010 to 31st May 2011.

Guided tours for groups through the exhibition can be requested under: bildung@kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site
Alte Römerstraße 75
85221 Dachau

Report of the De Partu and United Kingdom Centre for the History of Nursing and Midwifery (UKCHNM) first history of childbirth colloquium held on 23rd June 2010

The De Partu History of childbirth research group aims to provide a supportive network for active researchers working on research projects concerned with the history of childbirth and human reproduction or the history of midwifery.

The most recent event, a history colloquium, was held in June 2010. A report follows by Julia Allison, freelance historian and PhD student, University of Manchester and Janette Allotey:

On a gloriously sunny day, a diverse group of academics, researchers and practising midwives gathered in the Kanaris Lecture Theatre at Manchester Museum for the inaugural De Partu annual history of childbirth research colloquium.  

A lively morning programme included presentations on a variety of topics including menstruation and how it was accounted for in early modern England (Sara Read), childbirth and midwives in rural Elizabethan East Anglia (Julia Allison), the use of the vectis in midwifery practice (Louise Jenkins), and eighteenth-century midwifery education in the Free Hanseatic City and Lübeck, presented by our German guest Christine Loytved, from the University of Osnabrück. 

Following a delicious lunch and an opportunity to network, Samuel Alberti from the Centre for Museology, Manchester Museum, presented a short account of the history of the museum, its design and its collections. Resuming the midwifery theme, Helen Bryers gave a paper on the development of maternity services in the Gàidhealthachd (Highlands and Islands of Scotland) 1912 – 1967. Finally, a thought-provoking paper was given by Helen King in which a recent sensationalist claim that the eighteenth-century men midwives William Harvey and William Smellie were murderers was skilfully deconstructed. This led to a lively debate, raising issues about the nature of ‘expert authority’, the conduct of historical research in the age of the internet and peer review processes. 

This new academic forum offered attendees from a wide variety of different disciplines an ideal opportunity to network and to share their wide and rich range of expertise in the field. These events, which will take place on an annual basis, aim to enrich future work by fostering informal support and peer review, interdisciplinary learning and collaboration.