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

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Vintage Books, 1991 - Biography & Autobiography - 444 pages
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Between 1785 and 1812 a midwife and healer named Martha Ballard kept a diary that recorded her arduous work (in 27 years she attended 816 births) as well as her domestic life in Hallowell, Maine. On the basis of that diary, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich gives us an intimate and densely imagined portrait, not only of the industrious and reticent Martha Ballard but of her society -- a portrait that sheds light on its medical practices, religious squabbles and sexual mores.

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A midwife's tale: the life of Martha Ballard, based on her diary, 1785-1812

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This book is a model of social history at its best. An exegesis of Ballard's diary, it recounts the life and times of this obscure Maine housewife and midwife. Using passages from the diary as a ... Read full review

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About the author (1991)

Beverly Wilson Palmer is former coordinator of the Writing Program at Pomona College and a seasoned documentary editor. Among her works is the two-volume The Selected Letters of Charles Sumner, also published by Northeastern University Press. She lives in Claremont, California. Laurel THatcher Ulrich, editor of the New England Women's Diaries Series, is the James Duncan Phillips Professor of History and Director of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University.

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