A Midwife's Tale

A Midwife's Tale

‘A Midwife’s Tale: An Extraordinary Woman in 18th century New England’

On p. 0-250 of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s

Furman University
HST 231
Dr. Marian Strobel
Jildou Bakker

A Midwife’s Tale: An Extraordinary Woman in 18th century New England

In ‘A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard’, historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich portraits the life of 18th century midwife Martha Ballard, and creates a picture of Ballard’s life according to the diaries that she kept during the period from 1785 through to 1812. During her writings, Ballard describes her life as a midwife, while living in Hallowell, Maine with her husband Ephraim and some of her children and workers, along the Kennebec River. Through a detailed analysis of Ballard’s faithfully kept diary, Ulrich is able to unravel the everyday life of Ballard as a midwife, housewife, mother and well respected member of the community. Besides describing Ballard’s life, Ulrich elaborates on other aspects in the community, such as the social, legal and economical status of women in general. In this essay, I will evaluate the status of women in Northern New England during the lifetime of Martha Ballard, according to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s findings in ‘A Midwife’s Tale’. Furthermore, I will examine how Ulrich can provide the reader with a detailed and complete analysis and realistic image of the period, with the use of only one main resource.
Ballard’s diary gives a detailed look in the every-day life of a New England wife in the late 18th, early 19th century. Through the simple but detailed listings that Ballard wrote every day, one gets a strong sense of what life must have been like in the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century period. In Ballard’s lifetime, a women’s main job was to take care within in the domestic sphere. The home was her kingdom, it was where she set out the rules for her children and directed her servants or helpers, which often were daughters of friends. Ulrich...

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