The Very First Issue of Nursing Notes: a Practical Journal for Nurses, 1888

We’re celebrating International Day of the Midwife 2017 by making available, for free download, the first issue of the very first volume of Nursing Notes, which became the official journal of the Midwives Institute (later the Royal College of Midwives). A searchable, scanned copy of this historic issue is free to download as a PDF:…

Fantastic Finds: A Mystery Midwifery Certificate from the 18th Century

You never know what you might find delving through a backlog of museum accessions. But that’s what makes it fun. Earlier this month, our Museum Curator for the Royal College of Midwives Heritage Team uncovered a beautiful (if somewhat battered) 18th century midwifery certificate awarded to a Mary Burford of the City of London Lying-in…

Word of the Month: Bossi Dilator

Our Word of the Month for April is Bossi’s Dilator. One glance is all you need to tell that a Bossi Dilator is a pretty grim looking instrument. Dating back to late 19th century, the Bossi dilator was used to open the cervix during examinations and childbirth.  This model was designed by L.M. Bossi, professor…

Word of the Month: Breast Pump

This time Word of the Month is a familiar one: Breast Pump Breast pumps are manual or electronically powered devices used by mothers to encourage lactation. They can be used to stimulate lactation for those with trouble breastfeeding or they can be used to extract milk to be placed in a bottle for a later…

Edith Mary Pye (1876-1965) Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur

This International Women’s Day we recognise the heroic efforts of Edith Pye, midwife, Quaker, humanitarian and International Relief Organizer. Edith Mary Pye was one of the earliest certified midwives, having qualified in 1906 at Clapham School of Midwifery, and she served as President of the Royal College of Midwives between 1928 and 1949. But it…

Word of the Month: Walcher’s Position

Walcher’s Position is a technique used in labour where the mother reclines with her back supported and her legs dangling. This technique was used to encourage the pelvis to open a fraction wider. The position can be held for a limited number of contractions and can ease the delivery of a baby that may be…

Word of the Month: de Ribes Bag

Welcome to the RCM Heritage Blog’s newest feature: Word of the Week. In it we take an entry from The Midwife’s Pronouncing Dictionary and Encyclopaedia, beginning with the 1929 edition, and provide some historical context using the museum, archive and library collections of the Royal College of Midwives.

Vita Donum Dei: a Hymn for the Royal College of Midwives

You don’t have dig deep to find a special gem in the archives of the Royal College of Midwives. In time for the Christmas season, we recently unearthed an audiocassette tape featuring a 35-yearold performance of a very special hymn entitled Vita Donum Dei. Vita Donum Dei had been the College’s motto since its foundation…

Lily Good: The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection

Our penultimate extract from The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection is taken from an interview with ‘handywoman’ Lily Good. In Britain around the time of the First World War ‘handywoman’ was the name for a woman who attended births, nursed the sick and laid out the dead in her local community. During this period childbirth…