We continue to share cartoons created for other organizations. This one, on the history of midwives in the U.S., was created for AwakenMichigan: Reproductive and Sexual Justice Project.
Rather than composing a new fact sheet to accompany this graphic, we instead include a paper (see below) written in 2012 for the edification of the students in our Reproductive Justice class offered at the University of Michigan for several years through the Women’s Studies Department. First, however, a few explanatory notes on the graphic:
- The photo of Ina May Gaskin in Frame 1 is taken from a website about the film mentioned in Frame 2, Birth Story. Gaskin is the recipient of the 2011 Right Livelihood Award. You can watch her acceptance speech here.
- The photo of the Zia Pueblo midwife in Frame 3 is taken from the blog, The Many Colors of Changing Woman.
- Frame 4 features Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s groundbreaking book, A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on her Diary, 1785-1812.
- The midwives in Frame 5 include Lucretia Perryman of Alabama, Sibby Kelly of Georgia, Haldora Olson of Minnesota, Sawa Beppu of Washington State, and Mannie Odaimy Shahdan of New York.
- The French cartoon in Frame 2 was translated (inexpertly) by us. We also added the prizefighters at the bottom. We have no additional knowledge about the cartoon of the midwife in Frame 3.
- Frame 4 is is taken from the classic Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America.
- The photo of the county midwives in Frame 5 is from the website, Mississippi Public Health Nursing in the 1930s.
- The hospital photo in Frame 1 is from the Gray Panthers’ Medicare Fact Sheet.
- The Kentucky nurse-midwife photo in Frame 2 is from Laura Elizabeth Ettinger’s Nurse-Midwifery: The Birth of a New American Profession.
- The doctor and nurse talking in Frame 3 are part of an old advertisement preserved by James Vaughan, which we have altered for our purposes.
- The photo in Frame 4 was chosen almost entirely for the woman’s very 1980s hairstyle. We don’t really know where the child pictured in Frame 5 was born, or if her father had strong opinions about the place of birth.
- Frame 6 was lifted from the website of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing, although we retyped part of the graphic to make it more visible.
- Frame 1. The Practicing Midwife is a journal found in the University of Michigan Libraries’ collection. Many of those images were used in the 2013 conference exhibit, Birthing Reproductive Justice: 150 Years of Images and Ideas. You can still view the online portion of the exhibit. In the middle photo, Geradine Simkins is shown holding her recent book, Into These Hands: Wisdom From Midwives (2011). Simkins is included here because she is a key figure in the revival of Michigan midwifery. Finally, no discussion of a women’s health issue would be complete without a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves, most recently reissued in 2011.
- Frame 3 is very complex and difficult to read – by design. For information on Certified Professional Midwife licensure, we refer you to The Big Push for Midwives. The ladies marching in the old photo are, alas, not really midwives, but members of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers, taking part in the Shirtwaist Makers Strike of 1909. Consider that to be artistic license on our part.
- Frame 4 situates midwifery care inside the larger struggle for Reproductive Justice. We highlight the work of Tewa Women United, Black Women Birthing Justice, Strong Families, and every person who has stood up for Black Lives Matters. These individuals and organizations are all worthy of your support. Finally, the plant pictured is the Rose of Jericho, pointed out by Bellies and Babies as being particularly helpful to women in labor.
We are grateful to Marinah Farrell, LM, CPM, of Arizona, and President of the Midwives Alliance of North America, for her very helpful critique and suggestions. Thanks for midwifing our graphic, Marinah!