The Midwife's Tale Oral History Collection
This series of oral history recordings and transcripts was collected and preserved by Billie Hunter and Nicky Leap while researching and writing their book The Midwife’s Tale: An Oral History from Handywoman to Professional Midwife (London: Scarlet Press, 1993).
Now held in the Royal College of Midwives Archives, these interviews with midwives, mothers and their families provide a unique insight into early- and mid-20th-century attitudes towards pregnancy, birth and sex education, as well as detailed and personal reflections on topics ranging from childbirth to postnatal care.
With over 40 hours of interviews and accompanying transcripts, this collection brings together a variety of viewpoints and experiences from women and their families during an era that saw two world wars, the transformation of the British healthcare system, and radical changes across the lines of class and gender. The interviews were recorded in the 1980s and early 1990s, providing a contrast between early- and late 20th-century attitudes to midwifery, childbirth and the training of midwives in the United Kingdom.
How to Access The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection
Transcripts of the interviews are freely available on this website. Please click here to read through the collection!
Reference copies can be consulted by appointment in the Reading & Quiet Room at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists at 10-18 Union Street, London, SE1 1SZ. To enquire about making an appointment, please email [email protected].
Extracts from a selection of the interviews are available to listen to on YouTube:
Copyright permission is required for commercial use of audio and/or transcripts. Transcripts and audio files are the copyright of the authors Billie Hunter and Nicky Leap.
We would like to thank the people who made releasing this collection possible: Nicky Leap and Billie Hunter, the interviewers and authors of The Midwife’s Tale; the interviewees and their families; Reuben Hunter-McHardy, for digitising the original audio cassette tapes; and Penny Hutchins, former Archivist of the Royal College of Midwives, for cataloguing the collection.
The book published after the collection of these oral histories is available for purchase in bookshops and online stores (RRP £14.99). Click here to buy the book.