Papers of Edith Pye

Scope and Content

This collection comprises printed nursing and midwifery certificates of Edith Pye, including her certificate to practice midwifery awarded by the Central Midwives Board (22 February 1906), accompanied by futher certificates given to her after completing four years on the Hospital Committee at David Lewis Northern Hospital, Liverpool (5 December 1904), for passing an examination in the principles and practices of midwifery at Clapham Maternity Hospital (15 February 1906), to confirm her admittance to the General Nursing Council of England and Wales (21 July 1922), as well as to celebrate her joining the Royal College of Nursing (18 July 1929), found together with seven photographs and postcards of unidentified midwives (1892-1896).

Administrative / Biographical History

Edith Mary Pye (20 October 1876-16 December 1965) was a midwife and international relief worker who served as President of the Royal College of Midwives between 1928 and 1949. She was also a member of the Society of Friends from 1980.

In April 1919 Edith Pye was one of very few women to have been made a chevalier of the Légion d'honneur for setting a maternity hospital for women refugees from Rheims at Châlons-sur-Marne during the First World War.

In the years that followed she spent time feeding undernourished children in Vienna with her lifelong friend Dr Hilda Clark. In addition to this she worked on its international executive of the Women's International League, as well as travelling to India, Indo-China, and China to study the status of women.

In 1929 Edith Pye became the President of the Royal College of Midwives (formally known as the Midwives Institute), which was a post she occupied for twenty years. During her time in office and with her strong encouragement that the chloroform capsule was developed that first enabled midwives to administer pain relief to women in childbirth in their own homes. Between 1934 and 1936 Edith Pye was accorded the honour of being made president of the International Confederation of Midwives.

In addition to this high-profile commitment to midwifery, Edith Pye never ceased her efforts at international rescue work especially during the Spanish Civil War.

In 1952 Edith Pye retired to Somerset , where she died on 16 December 1965.


The material is arranged as it was received.

Access Information

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Acquisition Information

There is no record of the date or source of acquisition before the collection was deposited at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in May 2011.


Catalogued by Clare Sexton, Project Archivist in accordance with ISAD(G).

Other Finding Aids

Further details of the contents of this material are available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

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Custodial History

This collection was originally deposited at the Royal College of Midwives. It is now held under the terms of a service level collection care agreement at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.