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Past Events

Conference on the History of Midwifery (November 1999)

In recognition of National Women's History Month, the Sophia Smith Collection hosted a conference on midwifery on March 6 and 7, 1999, at Smith College. The conference, Of Women Born: The Rebirth of Midwifery in 20th Century America, heralded the opening of the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) Records for research use and featured an exhibit about the history of MANA. The program placed the organization in historical context; examined contemporary midwifery in anthropological, feminist, and political contexts; and considered its future in this country.

Valerie Lee, Professor of English and Women's Studies at Ohio State University and author of Granny Midwives and Black Women Writers: Double Dutched Readings, and Charlotte Borst, Professor of History at St. Louis University and author of Catching Babies: The Professionalization of Childbirth, 1870-1920, agreed to take part. Penfield Chester, midwife, teacher and author of Sisters on a Journey: Portraits of American Midwives, and Carol Leonard, midwife, co-founder, past president of MANA, and co-author of Women's Wheel of Life: Thirteen Archetypes of Woman at Her Fullest Power, also participated. The conference took place in the Reading Room of the Sophia Smith Collection in Alumnae Gymnasium and in Seelye Hall.

The conference was designed to appeal to a broad audience both within and beyond the college community, including students and scholars of History, American Studies, Women's Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology, as well as students preparing for careers in health sciences. Regional midwives and health care professionals working in related fields also found the conference of interest.

- Burd Schlessinger

For more information on the Midwives Aliiance of North America Records, View finding aid.

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 © 2005 Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063 Page last updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013