Southern Lay Midwives as Ritual Specialists
Midwifery in the southeastern United States is closely bound to the feminine reproductive-domestic role and requires specialized ritual, economic, and social behavior. Contemporary Southern lay midwives* are typically elderly black women; all of the midwives discussed here are black and live in rural areas or in towns having populations of less than 10,000 persons. Although the practices and events described here may reflect black-white relations in northern Florida, there is evidence that midwives throughout the United States shared similar experiences when local and state regulations affected their activities (Darlington 1911; Noyes 1912; Kobrin 1966). This presentation examines traditional birth ritual and changes in birth practices and midwifery initiated by state control.
KeywordsHealth Department Silver Nitrate Health Official Home Birth Ritual Specialist
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Darlington, Thomas. 1911. The present status of the midwife. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 63:870–876.Google Scholar
- Fitzpatrick, Elise and Nicholas J. Eastman. 1960. Zabriskie’s Obstetrics for Nurses. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott.Google Scholar
- Graves, Jules O. 1960. A Manual for Midwives. Jacksonville, Florida: Florida State Board of Health.Google Scholar
- Hanlon, John J. 1964. Principles of Public Health Administration. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby.Google Scholar
- Kobrin, Frances E. 1966. The American midwife controversy: A crisis of professionalism. Bulletin of the History of Mediane 40:350–363.Google Scholar
- La Fontaine, Joan (ed.). 1972. The Interpretation of Ritual: Essays in Honour of A. I. Richards. London: Tavistock Publications.Google Scholar
- Mongeau, Beatrice. 1973. The “granny” midwives: A study of a folk institution in the process of social disintegration. Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina.Google Scholar
- Noyes, Clara D. 1912. The training of midwives in relation to the prevention of infant mortality. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 66:1051–59.Google Scholar
- Southeastern Council on Nurse Midwifery. 1974. Mimeograph report on maternal-infant health. Jackson, Mississippi: University of Mississippi.Google Scholar
- Van Gennep, Arnold. 1960. The Rites of Passage. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar