Midwife's Tale: Mary Wroe

Scope and Content

Transcript of an interview with Mary Wroe covering her career as a midwife in Leeds and Sheffield, Yorkshire during the 1930s, including her experiences as a married midwife working in the district, the problems of infection, payment, social conditions, food supplies, babies clothing, traditional remedies, breastfeeding, midwifery equipment essential for working on the district, existence of 'handywomen' to support doctors in the place of qualified midwives, benefits of home deliveries, antenatal care, unmarried mothers, birth control and abortion attempts, conditions in the labour ward at Leeds, delivery positions and problems, preparations for home births, difference in experiences in nursing homes, pregnancy and delivery complications, memories of delivering babies during the Blitz, and the consequences of lack of family planning.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mary Wroe was born in 1908 in a Yorkshire minding village. She was a miner's daughter and trained as a midwife in 1931. She returned to her home village to practice as an indepdentant midwife. After 1936 she was employed by the local authority and continued to practice in the same village for 36 years. She married a winder at the mine and had a child. She retred in 1968, having attended the births of 2002 babies.

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]