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The Midwives Tale Oral History Collection

The Midwives Tale Oral History Collection

In honour of the International Day of the Midwife we are delighted to launch The Midwive’s Tales Oral History Collection.

This unique and colourful series of oral history recordings and transcripts were 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.

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 topics 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 us a contrast between early and late 20th century attitudes to midwifery, childbirth and the training of midwives in the United Kingdom.

Join us in celebrating these remembrances and the mothers and midwives who shared them with us.

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

Descriptions Online
Full descriptions of the collection are available via the Royal College of Midwives Archive Catalogue hosted by the Archives Hub.
 
Transcripts
Full transcripts of all interviews are freely available online on the Royal College of Midwives website.
 
Historic Images
 
 
Audio Interviews
Accessible for free at the library of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Contact details for: 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
 
  • Digital copies of interviews, for research purposes only, are also available remotely through the archive.
  • Write, call or email us to book an appointment, make an enquiry, or to order digital copies (free via Dropbox) for personal and non-commercial research.
 
Copyright
Copyright permission is required for commercial use of audio and/or transcripts.
Transcripts and audio files are copyright of the authors Billie Hunter and Nicky Leap.
 
Acknowledgements
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; Cardiff University for funding the transcription costs; Reuben Hunter-McHardy, for digitising the original audio cassette tapes; Penny Hutchins, former Archivist of the Royal College of Midwives, for cataloguing the collection; Carly Randall, Archivist at the Royal College of Midwives, for preparing the collection for public access.

 

 

Nicky Leap and Billie Hunter, The Midwife’s Tale: an Oral History from Handywoman to Professional Midwife, Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2013
The book published after the collection of these oral histories is available for purchase in bookshops and online stores (RRP £14.99). Reference copies of the current and previous editions are available at the library of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Click here to buy the book>