Ulrich’s organization of the material provides an introduction to the work followed by ten chapters in chronological order. Each chapter is introduced by a short passage from Martha’s diary, and is followed by Ulrich’s narrative essay, which expands on the diary entries. At times, the reader can become lost in the plethora of names that are mentioned and that do not often seem to be closely enough related to the main theme to require their identification.
In chapters 1 and 5, Ulrich deals with Martha’s work as a midwife, which included being a nurse, physician, mortician, and pharmacist. Her diary also made her a chronicler of the medical history of the area. Martha’s chief concern was to give her patients what she called “ease.” Although Martha at times worked under the direction of a doctor, she most often worked alone. In the eighteenth century, the work of doctors was beginning to include delivering babies. Working with other women, Martha cared not only for the pregnant and newly delivered but also for those who had had accidents or who were suffering from a multitude of diseases. In chapter 5, Ulrich records that by 1793 Martha was experiencing more competition from physician Benjamin Page, who seemed bent on making midwifery a part of his full-time practice. Martha was not reticent in reporting Page’s errors in the Sally Cock case, whereby Sally was delivered of a dead daughter with dislocated legs. Despite his inexperience but...
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