Call the Midwife: A History of Midwifery in Mid-Twentieth Century Britain

Sherman, S.R. (2022) Call the Midwife: A History of Midwifery in Mid-Twentieth Century Britain. Undergraduate theses, University of Chichester.

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How did midwives experience the changes bestowed on their profession between the 1950s and 1980s? Such a question underpins the vast amount of research conducted into the history of midwifery in mid-twentieth century Britain.1 Historians including Julia Allison, Tania McIntosh, Jean Towler and Joan Bramall explore in depth, typically chronologically, developments witnessed by midwives amidst the political altercations and social change of these decades.2 Significant attention is also given to how medical professionals and mothers experienced these changes, either through oral histories or other primary research.3 Notwithstanding this scholarly impetus, attempts to answer this overriding question have not always been satisfactory and it is the intention of this study to contribute to the growing discourse. Midwives are considered but often in relation to the broader narrative rather than as spokeswomen for their own history.4 This thesis, conversely, is midwife-led, with much time devoted to the lives of midwives themselves. Little research has been conducted into the midwives’ representative body, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), not least in terms of its increasingly strained relationship with Ministers of Health.5 The RCM will be considered more so on its own terms as central to the burgeoning narrative. Discussions of women’s consumer groups are often limited in scope, with Black women remaining on the fringes.6 This is true for studies of midwifery more generally, with non-British women often being omitted from research.7 The experiences of Afro-Caribbean mothers will be considered as part of this thesis. Local midwifery histories are limited, with many regions of Britain being left unexplored, something this thesis will attempt to correct.8 From these few examples, it is clear that this study seeks to consider relatively unexplored areas of the history of midwifery. In turn, a more nuanced answer to the aforementioned question can be provided.

Publication Type: Theses (Undergraduate)
Additional Information: A Dissertation submitted in part fulfilment of the BA (Hons) History
Uncontrolled Keywords: British Midwives, 1950s-1980s
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities > History
Student Research > Undergraduate
Depositing User: Gail Graffham
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2022 11:50
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2022 11:50

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