Midwife's Tale: Sissy S and Mary Thorley

Scope and Content

Transcript of an interview given by Mary Thorley and Sissy S of their memories of the midwife, Elsie Walkerdine, including Mary's role as unofficial helper to Elsie, breastfeeding, nutrition, midwifery equipment, and Sissy's experiences of childbirth during the 1930s, with Elsie as midwife.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sissy was born in 1906 in Deptford, south east London. She had four children in the 1930s, all delivered with midwife Elsie Walterdine in attendance.

Mary Thorley was born in 1912 in Deptford, south east London. She worked as a fitter on the trams during the war, and in a biscuit factory. In 1940, she went to lvie with a sister who lived next door to midwife Elsie Walkerdine. On Christmas day 1940, she was invited to play cards. She stayed the night at her house and remained there to live, being identified on the tenancy as Elsie's 'niece'. Mary often attended births with Elsie.

Conditions Governing Access

Transcripts and Sample Audio: Free to view and download from the website of the Royal College of Midwives: https://www.rcm.org.uk/library-and-information-services

Audio of Full Interviews: Accessible for free and by appointment at the library of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm (contact: archives@rcog.org.uk)

Write, call or email us to book an appointment, make an enquiry, or to order digital copies (free via Dropbox) for personal and non-commercial research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies for private study purposes only are available from the Archivist (contact: archives@rcog.org.uk). Copyright permission is required for commercial use of audio and transcripts.

Copyright lies with the authors Billie Hunter and Nicky Leap.

Related Material

The Midwife’s Tale: an Oral History from Handywoman to Professional Midwife, by Nicky Leap and Billie Hunter (2nd edition, 2013) [Available at the RCOG library, reference WQ11 LEA]