Marsha's Reviews > A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812

A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
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's review
Apr 02, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: history, memoir, owned-books
Read in March, 2008

Martha Ballard performed many duties as part of her midwifery. She was a healer, apothecary, nurse, mother and would help lay out a dead mother or baby if necessary. She took notes of autopsies, such things not being forbidden to women at the time. She was a prolific observer of the world around her and took copious if not always in-depth notes. She notes with almost matter-of-fact bluntness the children born to the laboring women, children not always born in wedlock, the sleaziness of politicians (who managed to get re-elected anyway) and the polyamory, all of which was accepted as part of mundane existence. Her diary and the accompanying notes by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich make it an absorbing read, both about her livelihood and the mores and morals of a vanished time.

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