Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

5/1/2010 - 9/30/2010

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Midwives and Society in Early Modern England

FAIN: FT-57587-10

Samuel Schley Thomas
University of Alabama, Huntsville (Huntsville, AL 35805-1911)

With an NEH Summer Stipend I will conduct archival research for, and begin to write, a monograph entitled, "Midwifery and Society in Early Modern England". In it I explore the social history of midwifery prior to the rise of male authority over childbirth in the eighteenth century. The goal of my research is not simply to describe midwives in greater detail, but to apply my findings to a broad range of historical subjects, including childbirth, gender and medicine. Using records from religious and secular courts, the book will explore four main themes: the social identity of midwives and how a woman's status shaped her medical practice; the relationship between midwives and mothers, both married and unmarried; the place of midwives in the medical marketplace and their relationships with other medical practitioners; and, the role of midwives in parish society, both as key figures in the community of women, and as participants in (and beneficiaries from) patriarchal rule.