cover of book

The Art of Childbirth: A Seventeenth-Century Midwife’s Epistolary Treatise to Doctor Vallant: A Bilingual Edition
by Marie Baudoin
edited by Cathy McClive
translated by Cathy McClive
Iter Press, 2022
Paper: 978-1-64959-078-7 | eISBN: 978-1-64959-079-4
Library of Congress Classification RG510.B38A5 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 344.0415

The extraordinary story of a seventeenth-century French midwife and her treatise on childbirth.
In 1671, Marie Baudoin (1625–1700), head midwife and governor of the Hôtel-Dieu of Clermont-Ferrand, sent a treatise on the art of childbirth to her powerful Parisian patron, Dr. Vallant. The story of how Baudoin’s knowledge and expertise as a midwife came to be expressed, recorded, and archived raises the question: Was Baudoin exceptional because she was herself extraordinary, or because her voice has reached us through Vallant’s careful archival practices? Either way, Baudoin’s treatise invites us to reconsider the limits of what we thought we knew midwives “could be and do” in seventeenth-century France. Grounding Marie Baudoin’s text in a microanalysis of her life, work, and the Jansenist network between Paris and Clermont-Ferrand, this book connects historiographies of midwifery, Jansenism, hospital administration, public health, knowledge and record-keeping, and women’s work, underscoring both Baudoin’s capabilities and the archival accidents and intentions behind the preservation of her treatise in a letter.

See other books on: Anecdotes | Childbirth | Midwifery | Midwives | Obstetrics
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