A Necessary Evil: The Midwives of Anne Arundel County
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Type of Work22 p.
ProgramMaster of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction
RightsCollection may be protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. To obtain information or permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Goucher Special Collections & Archives at 410-337-6347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve poured over sources, both primary and secondary. Right now I have nine books checked out from the library. My computer has gotten so full of digitized articles from the Baltimore Sun and the New York Times , medical papers and journal articles, and pamphlets and books, that I barely have enough space to download anymore. I’m trying to recreate the world of Progressive Era America with what has been left behind. I need the broad picture, which I get from books like Tina Cassidy’s Birth: The Surprising History of How We are Born and Judy BarrettLitoff’s American Midwives: 1860 to the Present , and the minutia too, like the published letters of Margaret Sanger to the biography of Julia Lathrop. Interlibrary loan has been my friend, allowing me to get almost any book I’ve needed. But what I love the most about research is the archive. It’s quiet as I delve into private lives of the past. I gaze at the letters of Lilian Welsh here at Goucher, the scribbles in the margin of Dr. John Whitridge William’s textbooks at Hopkins, the notes in a midwife’s journal at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, the photographs of agricultural workers at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. I’m the optimist; I believe that if I look long enough, I’ll find something of amazing value. That feeling is encouraged by times like when, in small print in a Nurse’s Alumni Magazine at Hopkins, I read, “Infant son of Dr. and Mrs. Guy Steele passed in December.” A doctor crusading against infant mortality lost his own son. To make my story compelling, I’ve learned to get the historical context, but also to dig deep into the little details that bring characters and places to life.