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Midwives Tale Oral History Collection Transcripts

Midwives Tale Oral History Collection Transcripts

Interviews conducted by Nicky Leap and Billie Hunter during research for the publication ‘The  Midwife's Tale: an Oral History from Handywoman to Professional Midwife’ (1993; 2nd edition 2013)

Archive Reference: Alice Forrest [RCMS/251/1]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity Services; Second World War; Caesarean section
Description: Transcription of an interview with Alice Forrest covering her experiences as a mother during the 1930s to 1940s, including details of social conditions, Caesarean delivery of her baby in hospital, war time, baby gas masks, pain relief, and feeding.Alice  Forrest  was  born  in  Dulwich,  South  London  in  1903  and  had  one  son  by Caesarean Section in 1937; she was from a well-off, middle-class family. Click here to access Alice Forrest transcript> 

Archive Reference: Bronwen Hill [RCMS/251/2] 

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity Services; Childbirth; Caesarean section
Description: Transcript of an interview with Bronwen Hill covering her experiences as a midwife, including training in London (1925), her role as a midwife in Swansea, caesarean sections, unmarried mothers, delivery of the placenta, her marriage to a doctor, pain relief, own experiences of childbirth, and social conditions. Click here to access Bronwen Hill transcript> 

Archive Reference: Edie Martinson [RCMS/251/3a]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity Services; Childbirth; Caesarean section; First World War; Contraception.
Description: Transcript of an interview with Edie Martinson covering her experience as a young mother in London (1918), including childbirth, midwives, social conditions, death of her first baby to enteritis and third baby to poverty, her service with the Land Army during the First World War, her different jobs to support her family, marriage breakdowns, sexual knowledge, contraception, abortions, benefits, and health during pregnancy. Click here to access Edie Martinson transcript> 

Archive Reference: Edie Martinson [RCMS/251/3b]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity Services; Second World War; Caesarean section
Description: Transcript of an interview with Edie Martinson covering her experience as a young mother in London (1918), including childbirth, midwives, social conditions, death of her first baby to enteritis and third baby to poverty, her service with the Land Army during the First World War, her different jobs to support her family, marriage breakdowns, sexual knowledge, contraception, abortions, benefits, and health during pregnancy. Click here to access Edie Martinson transcript> 

Archive Reference: Edith Burgess [RCMS/251/4] 

Topics include: Midwifery; Childbirth; First World War; Maternity Services; Maternal Mortality; Analgesia
Description: Transcript of an interview with Edith Burgess covering her experiences as a midwife, including her training in Newcastle during the First World War, attitude to unmarried mothers, social conditions, positions at Burnley, Lancashire and with Lambeth Borough Council, where she worked for 50 years, some of it as a district midwife, pain relief, delivery techniques, feeding for mothers and babies, conditions in the homes and in the hospitals, infections and maternal mortality, relationship between patients and midwives, delivering breech babies, antenatal care, treatment for jaundiced babies, memories of her association with the Royal College of Midwives, sexual knowledge, and disposal of the placenta. Click here to access Edith Burgess transcript> 

Archive Reference: Elizabeth Callister [RCMS/251/5] 

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity Services; Childbirth; Abortion; Analgesia; Contraception
Description: Transcript of an interview with Elizabeth Callister covering her experiences as a midwife, including her training as a general nurse at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (1938), midwifery training in Bradford and Wakefield, hospital work in Grimsby, on the district in Battersea, social conditions, different attitudes on hospital births and fathers being present at the birth, existence of handywomen, sexual knowledge, methods of delivery, pain relief, health and diet, abortions and family planning, and the relationship between midwives and doctors. Click here to access Elizabeth Callister transcript> 

Archive Reference: Elsie Kirk [RCMS/251/6]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity Services; Childbirth; Abortion; Analgesia; Contraception
Description: Transcript of an interview with Elsie Kirk of her experiences as a midwife, covering her training at the Nightingale Hospital, Derby and role as a midwife (from 1935), nursing training in Shrewsbury, hospital housekeeping training in Leeds, training for the midwifery teaching diploma (1944), and service at the Queen Mary Hospital until retirement (c.1960), conditions in the district, role of handywomen, social conditions, knowledge of sex and pregnancy, birthing positions and methods of delivery, maternal deaths, role as an examiner for the Central Midwives Board and methods of examination, antenatal care and mother craft classes, memories of Miss Foxton and Miss Knott, giving of enemas, birth of disabled babies, pain relief, and breastfeeding. Click here to access Elsie Kirk transcript> 

Archive Reference: Esther Silverton [RCMS/251/7a]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity Services; Childbirth; Maternal mortality; Analgesia; Contraception; Stillbirth
Description: Transcript of an interview with Esther Silverton of her experiences as a midwife in Portsmouth, including her training during the Second World War, social conditions, babies clothes, naming of babies during the war, rationing, delivery positions, donation of breast milk to hospitals, breast feeding, evacuation with mums to Liphook, Hampshire, training in Croydon during the War, details of the Blitz and delivering her first baby during a raid, wartime rations for pregnant women, antenatal care, pain relief during labour, episiotomies and examinations during labour, methods of delivering the placenta, maternal deaths, cot deaths, postnatal depression, the religious tradition of churching, the relationship between midwives and doctors, role of handywomen, breech deliveries, changes in society, and her own experience having a stillborn. Click here to access Esther Silverton transcript>

Archive Reference: Esther Silverton [RCMS/251/7b]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity Services; Childbirth; Maternal mortality; Analgesia; Contraception; Stillbirth
Description: Transcript of an interview with Esther Brading (formerly Silverton) of her experiences as a midwife in Portsmouth, including her training during the Second World War, social conditions, babies clothes, naming of babies during the war, rationing, delivery positions, donation of breast milk to hospitals, breast feeding, evacuation with mums to Liphook, Hampshire, training in Croydon during the War, details of the Blitz and delivering her first baby during a raid, wartime rations for pregnant women, antenatal care, pain relief during labour, episiotomies and examinations during labour, methods of delivering the placenta, maternal deaths, cot deaths, postnatal depression, the religious tradition of churching, the relationship between midwives and doctors, role of handywomen, breech deliveries, changes in society, and her own experience having a stillborn. Click here to access Esther Silverton transcript>

Archive Reference: Eve Osborn [RCMS/251/8]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Maternal Mortality; Abortion; Analgesia; Contraception; Stillbirth; Uganda
Description: Transcript of an interview with Eve Osborn covering her family life and education in London, nursing training at Bishops Stortford and maternity training at Hertford (from 1935) and Perivale, conditions at Perivale, training for Part 2 midwifery at Bexleyheath, qualities necessary for midwifery, experiences on the maternity wards at Wimbledon, as a children’s fever nurse in the East End, social discrimination, buying uniform, stories of abortions, hygiene on the wards and in the theatre, conditions working on the district in Bexleyheath during the Second World War before joining the Army, attitude to disabled babies, extending her midwifery experience at Farnborough in 1946, potty training, limited notes on her experiences in Uganda, and the East End Hospital from 1950. Click here to access Eve Osborn transcript> 

Archive Reference: Florence Wright [RCMS/251/9]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Maternal Mortality; Analgesia; Contraception; Stillbirth
Description: Transcript of an interview with Florence Wright covering her experience as a midwife, including her training (1938-1939) at Peckham Salvation Army Mother's Hospital, memories of her own mother's role as an untrained midwife in Great Yarmouth, reactions to high mortality rate of young children, acting as midwife in evacuation centres during the Second World War, changes brought about by the introduction of the National Health Service, access to contraception, uniforms, unmarried mothers, social conditions, environment as a Salvation  Army midwife, postnatal care in the nursing homes, and cases of adoption. Click here to access Florence Wright transcript> 

Archive Reference: Isobel Green [RCMS/251/10]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Maternal Mortality; Analgesia; Contraception; Stillbirth; Second World War
Description: Transcript of an interview with Isobel Green covering her experiences a a mother in east London, including wartime experiences, baby food, antenatal and postnatal care, social conditions, introduction of the National Health Service, and lack of contraception. Click here to access Isobel Green transcript> 

Archive Reference: Ivy Durnford [RCMS/251/11]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity Services; Childbirth; Maternal Mortality; Contraception; Abortion
Description: Transcript of an interview with Ivy Durnford covering her experiences as a mother in south London during the 1920s and 1930s, including the doctors, handywomen and midwives who assisted at her deliveries, illegal abortion, illegitimacy, and knowledge regarding sex. Click here to access Ivy Durnford transcript> 

Archive Reference: Jane Wood [RCMS/251/12]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Second World War
Description: Transcript of an interview with Jane Wood covering her experiences as a mother in London in the 1930s, including discussion of her deliveries, social conditions, evacuation during the War, and baby clothes. Click here to access Jane Wood transcript> 

Archive Reference: Lou Nicholson [RCMS/251/13]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth
Description: Transcript of an interview with Lou Nicholson covering her experience as a mother in 1931, including her knowledge of birth control, milk substitutes, availability of antenatal care, difference between hospital and home birth, preparations needed for home birth, and the death of her eldest son from haemophilia. Click here to access Lou Nicholson transcript> 

Archive Reference: Mary Cuzner [RCMS/251/14]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth; Contraception; Abortion; Second World War; Malta
Description: Transcript of an interview with Mary Cuzner covering her memories of her mother as a midwife in London during the early part of the twentieth century, and her own training as a midwife and nurse during the Second World War, including experience as a midwife in Malta (1954-1959), the introduction of antenatal care, discussion of delivery positions and place of birth, premature babies, and contraception. Click here to access Mary Cuzner transcript> 

Archive Reference: Sissy S Mary Thorley [RCMS/251/15]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth
Description: Transcript of an interview given by Mary Thorley and Sissy S of their memories of the midwife, Elsie Walkerdine, including Mary's role as unofficial helper to Elsie, breastfeeding, nutrition, midwifery equipment, and Sissy's experiences of childbirth during the 1930s, with Elsie as midwife. Click here to access Sissy S and Mary Thorley transcript> 

Archive Reference: Mary Thorley [RCMS/251/16]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth; Second World War
Description: Transcript of an interview with Mary Thorley covering her friendship with the midwife, Elsie Walkerdine, accompanying her on her rounds at the end of the Second World War, pregnancy complications, the midwife's duties, payment of midwives, home births, and roles of handywomen, and also including experiences of a mother whose daughter had been delivered by Elsie. Click here to access Mary Thorley transcript> 

Archive Reference: Mary Wroe [RCMS/251/17]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth; Second World War; Contraception; Abortion
Description: Transcript of an interview with Mary Wroe covering her career as a midwife in Leeds and Sheffield, Yorkshire during the 1930s, including her experiences as a married midwife working in the district, the problems of infection, payment, social conditions, food supplies, babies clothing, traditional remedies, breastfeeding, midwifery equipment essential for working on the district, existence of 'handywomen' to support doctors in the place of qualified midwives, benefits of home deliveries, antenatal care, unmarried mothers, birth control and abortion attempts, conditions in the labour ward at Leeds, delivery positions and problems, preparations for home births, difference in experiences in nursing homes, pregnancy and delivery complications, memories of delivering babies during the Blitz, and the consequences of lack of family planning. Click here to access Mary Wroe transcript> 

Archive Reference: Molly Baldrey Lily N [RCMS/251/18]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth; Contraception; Abortion
Description: Transcript of an interview with two sisters, Molly and Lily relating to the memories of their mother and the birth of her eight children by a local 'midwife' in South Shields during the 1920s and 1930s, including preparations for the births, home-made remedies, the handywoman's role as general nurse in the community, vaccinations, social conditions, lack of sexual education, illegal abortions, wartime experiences, and prevalence of TB and death. Click here to access Molly Baldrey and Lily N transcript> 

Archive Reference: Kath Lambert and Margaret Anderson [RCMS/251/19]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth; Contraception; Analgesia, Second World War
Description: Transcript of an interview with Kath Lambert and Margaret Anderson covering their experience as domiciliary midwives during the 1940s and 1950s, including discussion of a midwife's intuition, place of birth, relationship between midwives and doctors, as Queens nurses in Saffron Walden, modes of transport, effect of the Second World War on nursing services, payments for childbirth, training, experience with thalidomide and other disabilities, delivery positions, pain relief during childbirth, destruction of the placenta, methods used during complicated deliveries, resuscitation of babies, antenatal and postnatal care, cot deaths, breastfeeding, social conditions, existence of handywomen, anecdotes of births they attended, and emergency obstetric services. Click here to access Kath Lambert and Margaret Anderson transcript> 

Archive Reference: Lally Forbes [RCMS/251/20]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth
Description: Transcript of an interview with Lally Forbes covering her experience having a baby in 1921, her work in a local factory during her pregnancy, and family life. Click here to access Lally Forbes transcript>

Archive Reference: Ken Wright [RCMS/251/21]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth; Second World War
Description: Transcript of an interview with Ken Wright covering his memories of his mother and her many pregnancies during the 1920s, father's occupation as a fisherman then labourer, living conditions for such a large family, mother's training as a fever nurse and her role in the community as untrained midwife and to lay out the dead, wartime experiences, and his own experience as a nurse at the Yarmouth Naval Hospital. Click here to access Ken Wright transcript> 

Archive Reference: Lily Good [RCMS/251/22]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth
Description: Transcript of an interview with Lily Good relating to her experiences of childbirth during the 1920's and 1930's, including baby clothing, nappies, recommended sleeping positions, her mother's training as a midwife for the council in East Ham, deliveries, multiple births, delivering the afterbirth, baby feeding, and laying out dead bodies. Click here to access Lily Good transcript> 

Archive Reference: Nellie Hodges [RCMS/251/23]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth; Second World War
Description: Transcript of an interview with Nellie Hodges relating to her midwifery career, covering her nursing training at Hillingdon and Uxbridge, 1923, midwifery training at Plaistow, 1927, evacuation to the Midlands with mothers during the war, as matron of a small maternity unit for evacuated mothers near Leicester (1939-1944), and as district midwife in Walthamstow (1944-1960), and including lack of sex education, first experiences of delivering a baby, payment for deliveries, social conditions, maternal deaths, pregnancy complications and antenatal checks, birth positions, and disposal of the placenta during home births. Click here to access Nellie Hodges transcript> 

Archive Reference: Pensions Group Charter House [RCMS/251/24]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth
Description: Transcript of an interview with a group of pensioners relating to their experiences of childbirth during the 1920s and 1930s, including details of  social conditions and poor housing, home births, payment of medical costs and insurance, antenatal clinics, lack of sexual education, preparations for home births, working conditions, and childcare. Click here to access Pensioner’s Group, Charter House transcript>

Archive Reference: Ruby Crenin [RCMS/251/25]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth
Description: Transcript of an interview given by Ruby Crenin of her experiences of childbirth between 1918 and 1932, including attitudes to sex and marriage, hospital conditions, attendance by doctors, nurses and handywomen, abortion, preparations for the baby and delivery at home, social conditions, and breastfeeding. Click here to access Ruby Crenin transcript>

Archive Reference: Vera Wells [RCMS/251/26]

Topics include: Midwifery; Maternity services; Childbirth; Antenatal care; Homebirth; Second World War
Description: Transcript of an interview given by Vera Wells covering her experiences of childbirth in 1936, including delivery of her son by Caesarean Section at Middlesbrough Hospital, problems with breast feeding and treatment for breast abscesses, her husband's reactions to having a baby, payment of medical costs, social conditions as a builder's wife, attitudes to sex and lack of sexual knowledge and education, the lack of antenatal care, her wartime work at a local post office, feeding the baby and potty-training, and attitudes to women working. Click here to access Vera Wells transcript>