A Midwife, a Librarian and the North Carolina State Legislature

sonogramMidwife Jane Arnold practices through the OB/GYN Department at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and UNC Healthcare. Laura Micham, director of the Duke University Libraries’ Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, is one of her patients. At a recent appointment, Laura and Jane fell into conversation about a project Jane was engaged in. Jane and several of her colleagues were doing research on the history and current state of midwifery in preparation for a presentation to the North Carolina State Legislature. Their goal was to educate legislators about what midwives do and how the midwifery model of care contributes to positive maternal, fetal, and newborn health outcomes in the state of North Carolina and nationally. Laura told Jane about collections at the Bingham Center that document the history of midwifery and other aspects of the women’s health movement. “She was intrigued,” Laura said, “and asked if I would work with her on the presentation.”

Because Laura is also women’s studies librarian for the Duke University Libraries and selects materials for the Libraries’ general collections, she was able to identify a wide range of resources in addition to special collections that could support the project. Laura said, “I was happy to help with research on statistics, images, and basic information about the profession of midwifery.”

After reviewing a selection of materials at the Bingham Center, Jane decided that focusing on midwifery’s present and very recent past would be the best approach to take with the legislators. However, she was so inspired by the Center’s holdings that she has decided to propose a Grand Rounds presentation at the UNC Hospital on the history of midwifery that would be informed by Bingham Center collections as well as the holdings of other area libraries. Laura said, “I look forward to working with Jane and her colleagues on this endeavor and welcome it as an opportunity to collaborate with librarians at UNC to promote a tremendously worthy profession and give back to a group of women who have made an enormous difference in my life.”