Delivered by Midwives Book Review from @kleffnotes

Delivered by Midwives: African American Midwifery in the Twentieth-Century South is the 2019 American Association for the History of Nursing Lavinia L. Dock Award for Exemplary Historical Research and Writing in a Book winning book that examines the role of African American midwives in the twentieth century South. Jenny M. Luke has worked as a midwife herself and in this book her knowledge shines through. With evidence from a variety of sources, including personal accounts, this book will reveal to you information that you may never have considered.

The idea of “catchin’ babies” was just one element of the midwifery practice of African American women in the South. There is very little written about this group of people and the evolution of their work as local and federal health care practices changed. This book provides a new perspective on the childbirth experience of African American women with evidence from various health journals, state and county documents, and personal accounts from various practitioners. Luke moves outside of typically racial dichotomies to examine how these women pushed to demand an inclusive and desegregated society, which was tied to their feeling of agency in this field.

Luke illuminates elements of maternity care that were previously not considered vital as the field progressed. Today some of these elements are being brought back into use and current dilemmas are being answered through the use of these older methods. She breaks down how changes were implemented by women and how customs changed over time. This book may be slim in size, but it is a complex read that breaks down an extensive history for readers who may not have any background in the field. You can get your copy of Delivered by Midwives: African American Midwifery in the Twentieth-Century South today.

Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on Twitter, @thenerdygirlexp. You can find me on Twitter, @kleffnotes, on my blog,, and on my kleffnotes YouTube channel.


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