By Gertrude Jacinta Fraser
Beginning on the flip of the century, such a lot African American midwives within the South have been steadily excluded from reproductive healthiness care. Gertrude Fraser exhibits how physicians, public overall healthiness body of workers, and country legislators fastened a crusade ostensibly to enhance maternal and boy or girl health and wellbeing, in particular in rural components. They introduced conventional midwives lower than the regulate of a supervisory physique, and at last eradicated them. within the writings and courses produced by means of those physicians and public wellbeing and fitness officers, Fraser reveals a universe of principles approximately race, gender, the connection of medication to society, and the prestige of the South within the nationwide political and social economies. Fraser additionally stories this adventure via dialogues of reminiscence. She interviews participants of a rural Virginia African American neighborhood that incorporated not only retired midwives and their descendants, yet someone who lived via this modification in clinical care--especially the ladies who gave delivery at domestic attended by way of a midwife. She compares those narrations to these in modern scientific journals and public future health fabrics, studying contradictions and ambivalence: was once the midwife a determine of disgrace or delight? How did one distance oneself from what used to be now thought of "superstitious" or "backward" and even as recognize and take pride within the former unquestioned authority of those ideals and practices? In a major contribution to African American reports and anthropology, African American Midwifery within the South brings new voices to the discourse at the hidden international of midwives and birthing.
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Extra resources for African American Midwifery in the South: Dialogues of Birth, Race, and Memory
By the late 1930s, production of the birth certiﬁcate had become, for public health ofﬁcials, as important a crusade as their efforts to teach cleanliness to African Americans. Mongeau’s (1973) study of the 1950– 60 campaign against midwives in North Carolina suggests that nurses devoted the greater part of instructional time to teaching midwives how to properly ﬁll out birth certiﬁcates. Part of the difﬁculty, from the ofﬁcials’ perspective, was that many older midwives had had little if any schooling.
Beginning in the 1930s, Louisiana had Albert Dent, an African American physician leader who developed accessible care in a hospital for his people. Dr. Dent worked to decrease infant mortality rates and to offer competitive obstetric rates to entice African American women away from the rural midwife. Mississippi had Dr. Felix Underwood, who brought a system of midwifery education to his state. North Carolina’s Watson Rankin and Charles Laughinghouse directed a state health department that spearheaded the employment and training of African American public health nurses in the ﬁrst half of the century.
And she got, well, I would say, at ﬁrst, a little angry about it. This type of thing someone killing your career, is just like killing some member of the family that’s real close . . ’ . . So you just pretty soon feel whipped” (1988:92). Even with the high rates of midwife-attended births in the 1930s and 1940s, proponents emphasize the decontextualization of the lines of authority and communal relations that gave midwifery its social power. Numbers, then, do not speak for themselves in this weighting of the historical account.