Midwife's Tale: Elsie Kirk

Scope and Content

Transcript of an interview with Elsie Kirk of her experiences as a midwife, covering her training at the Nightingale Hospital, Derby and role as a midwife (from 1935), nursing training in Shrewsbury, hospital housekeeping training in Leeds, training for the midwifery teaching diploma (1944), and service at the Queen Mary Hospital until retirement (c.1960), conditions on the district, role of handywomen, social conditions, knowledge of sex and pregnancy, birthing positions and methods of delivery, maternal deaths, role as an examiner for the Central Midwives Board and methods of examination, antenatal care and mother craft classes, memories of Miss Foxton and Miss Knott, giving of enemas, birth of disabled babies, pain relief, and breastfeeding.

Administrative / Biographical History

Elsie Kirk was born in 1904 in Lancashire and trained as midwife in 1935 in Derby. she worked mostly in hospitals but also undertook some private cases with wealthy families, 'living in' before and after the birth. She later became a midwife tutor.

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]