The Midwives Tale Oral History Collection

These oral histories were recorded during research for the book The Midwife's Tale: an oral history from handywoman to professional midwife and were donated to the RCM archive in 2014 by Professor Billie Hunter and Nicky Leap.

The collection contains:

  • the personal anecdotes and reflections of midwives, nurses, mothers, and their families
  • over 40 hours of interview recordings along with accompanying transcripts
  • extensive discussions on issues ranging from contraception to post-natal care; pregnancy to birth; and midwifery training to community midwifery

Now held by the archive of the Royal College of Midwives, these interviews with midwives, mothers and their families provide a wonderful insight into early and mid-20th century attitudes towards pregnancy, birth and sex education, as well as detailed and personal reflections on issues ranging from childbirth to post-natal 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.

"I was 25 then and I’d done four years in hospital besides my maternity... but you see, they felt that experience counted more than training in those days." - Mary Wroe

How to Access the Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection & Images

Full descriptions of the collection are available via the Royal College of Midwives Archive Catalogue hosted by the Archives Hub.

Audio interviews and transcripts are accessible for free at the library of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Address: 27 Sussex Place, Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4RG

Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm

Phone: 020 7772 6309

Email: [email protected] 

 

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.

A district midwife bathing a baby back in the 1960s

A district midwife bathing a baby back in the 1960s

"Some people say it’s only the babies you like, but of course it isn’t. It’s the mothers as well, and you can help to enjoy the baby with the mother." - Elsie Kirk

"Some people say it’s only the babies you like, but of course it isn’t. It’s the mothers as well, and you can help to enjoy the baby with the mother." - Elsie Kirk

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