Author Archives: Janette Allotey

About Janette Allotey

Retired midwifery lecturer (University of Manchester) and Chair of De Partu

A TV researcher is currently looking for an ‘expert’ to advise on midwifery…

A researcher is currently looking for an ‘expert’ to advise on midwifery and a midwife who practised between 1940-60:

‘I’m researching a potential story to do with midwifery for the series Who Do You Think You Are? The ancestor we are interested in qualifies in 1928 as a midwife, she works as a ‘municipal midwife’ and then as a district midwife (we think) as a domiciliary midwife in London for the LCC from around 1942 – 1958. We would really like to speak with an expert to ask questions about her role and how she would have coped during the war, and what difficulties midwives faced”.

Does anyone know of a possible midwife interviewee?

Please contact Janette if you are able to help at:

The Foundling Hospital: Big with child on stage – fictional and real occurrences of pregnancy in the Thespian world of around 1700

Hear about fictional and real occurrences of pregnancy in the Thespian world of around 1700.

Wednesday 21st April 13:00 | Online via Zoom, free but must be booked in advance

Researcher Anita Sikora uncovers the intriguing world of pregnancy on the London stage in the early 18th century. English actor Ann Oldfield and Italian opera singer Margherita Durastanti both continued to perform well into advanced pregnancy. Come and discover what reactions this caused – and how pregnancy was depicted in the theatre during this period.

A new online feature on George Spratt’s Obstetrical Tables (1833) by Dr Rebecca Whiteley

Dr Rebecca Whiteley writes, ‘By studying Spratt’s tables alongside comic and satirical mobile prints, obscene and pornographic prints, and “fine art” nudes, this article demonstrates how medical images can be addressed as rich and complex resources for histories that are medical, visual, and cultural’.

Get access

A funded PhD studentship: ‘Public Understandings of Fertility, Pregnancy or Post-Natal Health: A Cultural History’

The topic is Public Understandings of Fertility, Pregnancy or Post-Natal Health: A Cultural History; the supervision is split between Birkbeck’s School of Arts and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Students are asked to define their project, specifying a period of history, and a specific health topic within maternity health, broadly conceived.

Details here


Interesting paper ‘Reviewing the Womb’

In the current issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Dunja Begovi, Elizabeth Chloe Romanis and Alexandra Mullock suggest in an open access article ‘Reviewing the womb‘ that women’s reproductive freedom is under threat in many ways as the uterus becomes more accessible and amenable to medical management. It discusses some of the associated ethical and legal dangers which have emerged from developments in reproductive technology, and reflects on the historical notions of woman as the (sometimes incompetent) vessel for the nurturing of the male seed, where the focus lies on the fruit of the womb, on the fetus rather than the mother.

Mary Toft in eighteenth-century England…

Whether or not you have read The Imposteress Rabbit Breeder, reviewed for De Partu by Dr Ashleigh Blackwood, you may enjoy listening to an interview with the author, Professor Karen Harvey, who asks why on earth would a woman wish to pretend to give birth to rabbits…how could it be true …and why would contemporary medical men appear to believe this and investigate it?
The interview is from an ‘History Extra’ podcast for BBC History Magazine.

Books available for review

The following new publications will soon be available for review:

The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy: A History of Miscarriage in America by Lara Freidenfelds (Oxford University Press, 2020)
Midwifery from the Tudors to the Twenty-First Century: History, Politics and Safe Practice in England, by Julia Allison (Routledge, 2020)
NB the latter is in PDF format only; publishers are no longer posting out review copies owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Please contact the Book Review Editor, Dr Alison Nuttall ( if you are interested in reviewing either of these titles.