Abstract

This study examines regulatory efforts directed toward black midwives in South Carolina in the early twentieth century as evidenced within the state’s Board of Health documents. Using qualitative content analysis and Abbott (1988) and Starr’s (1982) discussion of the medico-legal relationship between doctors and the legal profession, I critically examine South Carolina’s Sanitary Codes in order to discern the temporal nature of midwifery law in the early twentieth century. I argue that the language within these legislative stipulations governing granny midwives become more restrictive over time in the early twentieth century thanks to antimidwifery advocacy by US physicians and health officials. Further, I demonstrate how the South Carolina State Board of Health ensured that grannies operated appropriately using other black women as midwifery supervisors. This study illustrates how despite the lack of universal laws governing midwifery in the United States in the early twentieth century, South Carolina actively engaged in “rounding up” the midwife using state-appointed midwifery supervisors, increasingly restrictive practice stipulations, and mandatory midwifery training seminars. This research was supported by a Doctoral Dissertation Enhancement Grant and Fellowship.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8034
Print ISSN
0145-5532
Pages
pp. 155-182
Launched on MUSE
2015-06-29
Open Access
No
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