“A Midwife’s Tale” is the story and accounts of Martha Ballard. Martha was very consistent with writing in her diary. There diary is made up of different stories, baby deliveries, land disputes, gardening, weaving, and many other facets of life in rural Maine. There are very few historical documents that focus specifically on women and many times women of that era are forgotten about. Many women involved in medicine in the 18th century were not given much credit. Women were quite active and played an important background role in the practice of medicine in the town.
Ulrich considers such titles as domestic medicine, folk medicine, popular medicine, and lay medicine, settling finally on social medicine because it denotes the close though informal ties between the women healers and their community. While male physicians sought to avail themselves of every title and designation which would distance themselves from the community, achieving a superior, professional position over it. Women healers were such an inherent part of the community that they have been barely noticed by historians: "Social healers . . . were so closely identified with their public we can hardly find them" (61). The healers administered medical care in a number of ways, especially in the form of midwifery: "A midwife was the most visible and experienced person in a community of healers who shared her perspective, her obligations, her training, and her labor" (64).
However, she had no degrees on the wall, no titles, nothing like the income of a male physician, and therefore she has not been given her proper due in the historical records of a
society which was so thoroughly defined and operated by powerful men. This exclusion of women from the circle of recognized power in medicine was taken to great lengths by male physicians.
The same behind-the-scenes impact of women is found in the areas of social convention and economics. Women contributed mightily in both areas, but, again, are...
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