Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Midwifery in the 19th Century at Kieffer's Place

New this year at Kieffer's Place will be the introduction of a program on midwifery and home health care in the early 19th century. Unbeknown to many people, midwives provided care for more than just the events surrounding childbirth. They also administered treatments for general illness and ministered to entire families. They were the first line of treatment, often called before a physician.

Our interpreters will provide lively discussion on what home health care would have looked like at this time in history. During the first half of the season, we will be discussing, among other things, a malady know specifically to this area as Genesee Fever, also know as Auge or Fever and Auge. (Malaria)

Physically, the building is being re-outfitted to reflect this program change. The inside is being whitewashed and repainted while a new garden has been installed that features medicinal herbs that a midwife would have employed in her practice as well as early medical tools that a midwife would have used.

Broom making, which had been housed in Kieffer's Place has been relocated to the Shaker's Trustee Building.

Recommended Reading
For those who want to learn even more, A Midwife's Tale, The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary 1775-1812, by Laurel Thacher Ulrich, is a nice complement to this program. It provides an in depth and fascinating look at the life and role of a midwife during the early 19th century.
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