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Forceps and Gynaecological Instrument collection
The collection of obstetrical and gynecological instruments in the Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library numbers 57 instruments. Many were collected by Herbert Thoms, M.D. (1885-1972), longtime professor of obstetrics at Yale and a notable historian of obstetrics, who sought out examples of the various types of forceps, perforators, cranioclasts, and other instruments. Search our larger medical instruments database for more. Read an article about the collection written by Randi Epstein, M.D. in 2010. If the links don't work, please go away from the website, clear your cookies in your browser, and hit the link again.
Reproductive health texts online
Midwife cutting the umbilical cord following childbirth, from Dr. W. Beach's Improved System of Midwifery, Adapted to the Reformed Practice of Medicine, this edition published in New York in 1850.
You can find a large number of 19th and early 20th century midwifery, eugenics, and obstetrical texts in the Medical Heritage Library, a free, open access digital library in which Yale is a partner. Click on any title, scroll down the page, and you'll find options for downloading the entire text, including PDF.
Don't forget Google Books! You can find articles like this one, on "The Midwife Menace," (1917) in journals like the Delineator.
Posters in the Medical Historical Collection
Archival sources at Yale
Yale has a wealth of interesting collections. If you want to look at the papers of individuals or groups discussing childbirth, use Orbis or the Archives at Yale for detailed lists of these collections. You would have to see these collections on campus at Manuscripts and Archives or the Medical Historical Library, depending on who owns the collection, although some portions might be digitized. Beyond our archives, take a look at the Women's Magazines database, which has great popular magazines directed towards women.
Great materials open for research at Manuscripts and Archives and the Medical Historical Library include:
Helen Varney papers
The papers document the career of Yale School of Nursing professor, Nurse-Midwifery Specialty, Helen Varney Burst. The bulk of the materials are evenly divided between notes, drafts and final texts of speeches given by Varney Burst, 1970-2015, mainly on the history or future of midwifery, and material documenting her work on the Special Commission on Infant Health in New Haven, primarily 1987-1995.
Philip M. and Lorna Sarrel papers
The Sarrel papers include files documenting the establishment of the Young Mothers Program (YMP) at Yale-New Haven Hospital, an outgrowth of the teenage pregnancy clinic; the inclusion of sex education courses in curricula for a New Haven high school and Yale undergraduate and medical students. See box 1 for the Young Unwed Mothers program and sex education at Yale.
Edith Banfield Jackson papers
A child psychiatrist and pioneer in family-centered maternity and infant care and parent-infant bonding, Jackson is best known for her work on the Yale Rooming-In Research Project. She developed the rooming-in plan to allow parents to have an increased role in the care of their newborn children within hospitals. From 1946 to 1952 Jackson directed the experimental rooming-in unit at the Grace-New Haven Community Hospital. The project served as the model for a new obstetrical unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital and stimulated change in the institutionalized care of mothers and infants. The papers include photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, and memorabilia documenting Edith B. Jackson's Yale Rooming-In Research Project at the Grace-New Haven Community Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut.
Herbert Thoms collection
A Yale obstetrician, historian of medicine, and artist/engraver. In 1915, Thoms began an active practice in obstetrics in New Haven. He was appointed an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale, and in 1927 he became a member of the full-time faculty. He became chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1947, a position he held until his retirement in 1953. During his academic career, he made many important contributions in his field including studies in pelvimetry, the plan for infant “rooming-in” after delivery in conjunction with Dr. Edith Jackson and members of the Department of Pediatrics, the “natural child birth” program, and studies in the Yale infertility clinic which he established. See particularly boxes 1, 2, 7 & 8. This collection is located at the Medical Historical Library.
James H. Etheridge and family collection
James H. Etheridge was a gynecologist who became Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Rush Medical College. The collection contains biographical materials, correspondence of Etheridge, correspondence of Etheridge's wife's family (including the correspondence of Heman G. Powers, a Chicago businessman), Etheridge's writings, his patient records, ephemera from medical societies, photographs, and certificates and diplomas. This collection is located at the Medical Historical Library.
Yale-New Haven Hospital Records-Teenage Unwed Parents Program
Teenage unwed mothers program, proposals, memoranda, and correspondence, 1966-1967.
Anna Strunsky Walling Papers
Walling’s letters to her husband while she was in Germany with her sister Rose, who was trying an experimental method of anesthesia for childbirth (twilight sleep), 1921 October 6-7; AND Walling’s published article from McClure’s, “Twilight Sleep II, ” 1922 June. See Series I, Box 15, folder 214 AND Series III, Box 32, folder 379.
Obstetrical case book of Dr. David L. Daggett, 1841-1892
From the larger Medical Manuscripts Collection in Manuscripts and Archives (originally from the Medical Historical Library)
Mabel Loomis Todd Papers
Series II scope/content note mentions: “Mabel Todd's announcement of her pregnancy to her parents (1879) led to long letters on all sides discussing her condition. They touched on the themes of motherhood and the family and discussed contemporary practices for managing a pregnancy. Since Millicent Todd was left with her grandparents for long periods during the first years of her life, reports on her progress revealed the Loomis' attitudes on child-rearing practices and beliefs.”
“Millicent’s Life” journals documenting Todd’s pregnancy and childbirth (in vol. I-II, box 116, folders 453-454).
Lawrence Z. Freedman Papers
While this collection has access restrictions, Freedman,a forensic psychiatrist and former Yale professor who conducted an obstetrics study, wrote many articles on the topic, which can be found in Series VI.