Maude Callen was a nurse-midwife, known today because she was the subject of a Life magazine photo-essay by the famed photojournalist W. Eugene Smith. In her lecture at the Radcliffe Institute entitled “Black before Brown: Education, Health, and Social Welfare Professionals in the South, 1930-1954,” Darlene Clark Hine noted of Callen, “She became the first African American woman in United States history to be featured in a mainstream white publication that did not telescope her body or sexuality.” The 3 December 1951 essay entitled “Nurse Midwife: Maude Callen Eases Pain of Birth, Life, and Death” shows that Callen was an exemplary human being: strong, tireless, brave, committed, and indomitable. It also shows that Callen essentially ran her own private social service agency for the poor of her community. What the essay did not show, could not show, in a mainstream, conservative publication such as Life except by ...
Hilary Mac Austin
Adria N. Armbrister
nurse-midwife, was born in Pennsylvania. Little is known of her family or early life. She is best known for her work with African American midwives in Arkansas during the 1940s; her efforts are credited with having reduced drastically the race-based disparities in maternal mortality in that state at mid-century. Hale trained in and practiced public health nursing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, before attending the Tuskegee School of Nurse-Midwifery in Alabama. Hale, who received a certificate in midwifery from the program, was one of thirty-one African American women graduates of the Tuskegee school, only the fourth such education program in the United States. Opened in 1942 the school was also the first postgraduate nurse-practitioner course in midwifery for African American students. It awarded both master's degrees and certificates, but it closed in 1946 as did several other programs for African American nurse midwives begun at that time due to white ...
Amy M. Hay
The public health career of the nurse and midwife Mamie Odessa Hale demonstrates the importance black women have played in helping to improve the health of black Americans, particularly in the South. Hale’s training of the “granny” midwives of Arkansas proved to be her lasting gift to public health.
Born in Pennsylvania, Mamie Odessa Hale attended a teachers college and later worked as a public health nurse in Pittsburgh, eventually leaving that career to attend the Tuskegee School of Nurse-Midwifery in Alabama, from which she graduated in 1942. Tuskegee, famous and infamous in black health history, played an important role as an institution dedicated to improving the health of poor rural blacks. The institution opened one of the first black nurses training programs in 1892 and served as a major educational institution in providing both training for black professionals and health programs for southern blacks.
The Nurse Midwifery ...
Steven J. Niven
midwife and author, was born Onnie Lee Rodgers near Sweet Water in southwest Alabama to Len Rodgers, a farmer and carpenter, and his wife, Martha (maiden name unknown), a midwife and farmer. Like her fifteen siblings and most rural southerners at the time, Onnie Lee was delivered by an African American midwife, in part because of a lack of practicing physicians outside of the South's major urban centers, and also because black granny midwives had traditionally performed this task since slavery times. In addition to her mother, Logan's maternal and paternal grandmothers, as well as one of her brothers-in-law, were also midwives.
At a time when most of her black neighbors struggled to get by as sharecroppers, Onnie Lee Logan recalled that her parents owned their own land a huge plantation on which they raised several types of livestock and grew a wide variety of vegetables as ...
Steven J. Niven
midwife, was born to Beulah Sanders in Eutaw, Alabama. Perhaps very young, and unable to look after a baby, Beulah Sanders asked a local woman, Margaret Charles, to raise her child, because she had adopted and raised nine others. In her 1996 autobiography Margaret Charles Smith refers to her adoptive mother as both her “mama” and her grandmother, but it is unclear if Mrs. Charles was the biological or the adoptive mother of Beulah Sanders. Margaret Charles had been born in slavery in 1836 and sold to a family in the Alabama black belt for three dollars when she was thirteen Smith never knew who her father was and she never did ask because when she was a child you couldn t say things to old people like children say to old people now cause you got your tail tore up Smith 27 Although her grandmother was ...