The stories of midwives in the Armidale, Port Macquarie and Kempsey regions to 1950 have been captured in a new book.
Professional historian Dr Noeline Kyle’s research into midwives started in 1979 when writing a biography of her great grandmother Mary Kirkpatrick.
That culminated in her book, Women’s Business: Midwives on the Mid North Coast of NSW to 1950, a study of Armidale, Kempsey and Port Macquarie.
The midwives of the era were independent professional women in business.
Dr Kyle found links between three towns as the midwives moved around the areas.
“These women, as well as being very collegial, were very mobile and very resourceful,” she said.
“They were business women and they were looking for work all the time.”
The women worked as independent midwives, they established and owned hospitals and provided the maternity health care for women and babies in country towns.
Most worked from rented premises, often registered as private hospitals.
The publication details the training, careers, family life, business enterprises, travel, friendships and partnerships with other midwives or nurses.
It examines the community participation and contribution to the profession and their communities of 200 midwives and the hospitals they established or managed.
Take the Reid women for example.
Ann Reid was a highly sought after midwife in the Hastings district.
Family members followed in her footsteps with daughter-in-law Mary Louisa Reid, also a midwife, opening a hospital at Flagstaff House in Port Macquarie.
Ann Reid’s granddaughter Sabine Reid became the third in her family to become a midwife.
Dr Kyle said the midwives were well-loved in the communities.
The professional historian’s research spanned nursing and midwifery records, newspapers and museum collections.
Women’s Business: Midwives on the Mid North Coast of NSW to 1950 will be launched at the Slim Dusty Centre in Kempsey at 10.30am on July 15.
Go to www.writingfamilyhistory.com.au for more information on the book.