THE EVOLUTION OF NURSE-MIDWIFERY: 1900–1960

Authors

  • Sally Austen Tom C.N.M., M.S.

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    • Sally Austen Tom, C.N.M., M.S., has a BA in anthropology and religion, a BSN from Duke University, and an MS in Parent–Child Nursing and Nurse-Midwifery from the University of Utah. She is a former member of the faculty of the nurse-midwifery education program at Georgetown University and she is currently the Government Liaison for the American College of Nurse-Midwives.


  • This article has been excerpted from Ms. Tom's unpublished Master's Thesis, “With Loving Hands: The Life Stories of Four Nurse-Midwives” © by Sally Austen Tom. (A biographical account of Rose McNaught appeared in JNM 24 (2) March/April: 3–8, 1979. A biographical account of Agnes Reinders appeared in JNM 25 (5) September/October: 9–12, 1980. A biographical account of Aileen Hogan appeared in JNM 26 (3) May/June: 7–11, 1981. A biographical account of Lalla Mary Goggans and an analysis of these biographical accounts will be published in later issues of JNM.)

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ABSTRACT

Childbirth in the United States was controlled by women until the early 1900s. By 1925, however, childbirth was in the hands of physicians, the midwife was all but eliminated, and federal and state governments had begun establishing programs to improve maternal and infant health care. Nurse-midwifery began in this country with the establishment of services for the poor in rural and urban areas. By the early 1950s nurse-midwives were feeling the need to form a cohesive organization. After seeking to be a part of several other organizations, a group of nurse-midwives polled all of the nurse-midwives whom they could find and received a strong mandate to start a separate organization.

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