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…

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…

Esther Silverton (part 2): The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection

This week’s glimpse at The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection is a second extract from the interview with retired midwife Esther Silverton recorded in August 1985. In this extract Esther describes the religous tradition of ‘churching’ new mothers, and the relationship between midwives and doctors. Esther Silverton was born in Portsmouth in 1916, and trained…

Edie Martinson: The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection

This week’s extract from The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection explores the difficulties experienced by poor and working class mothers in London during the 1930s and 1940s. The interview below features Edie Martinson who was born in London in 1902 and came from a working-class home. She married in 1920 and had five children between…

Alice Forrest: The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection

During research for their book, Billie Hunter and Nicky Leap interviewed mothers as well as midwives and nurses, in order to gain a well rounded picture of pregnancy, childbirth, and pre and post natal care before the NHS. This extract from The Midwife’s tale Oral History Collection features an interview with mother Alice Forrest who…

Nursing Notes & Midwives’ Chronicle, March 1936

This month’s post comes from the 1936 volume of Nursing Notes & Midwives’ Chronicle, at a time when a new parliamentary bill for midwives was finally reaching the last stages before becoming a new Act to supplement those already passed in 1902 and 1926. It is probably fair to say that those representing the midwives…

Nursing Notes, December 1914

This month’s post comes from the December 1914 issue of ‘Nursing Notes’ and has been put together by Autumn, a volunteer to the RCM Archive. By the time of the First World War’s famous Christmas truce along the Western Front 100 years ago this month, Europe was fully aware that it was “face to face…

Midwives’ Chronicle & Nursing Notes: July 1949

Fast forward from the wartime 1940s to the period of optimism of the early 1950s – things were happening in 1949, not wholly surprising considering the monumental implementation of the NHS the year before. The main article of this issue in July 1949 covers the report issued by the Joint Committee of the Royal College…

Midwives Chronicle and Nursing Notes, April 1977

There are two particular themes which run through this month’s issue of Midwives Chronicle: both these themes have particular resonance today and the reader could be mistaken in thinking that the world hadn’t changed much in 30 years! In April 1977 the Council of the Royal College of Midwives was discussing the particular themes of…