Records of the Royal College of Midwives Departmental Committee on Maternal Mortality

Scope and Content

This collection comprises minutes, correspondence and reports of the Departmental Committee on Maternal Mortality set up by the Ministry of Health, which included representatives from the Royal College of Midwives (formally known as the Midwives Institute) (1928-1938), examining the causes of, and subsequently ways to prevent maternal mortality, with particular references to actual cases of maternal death, as well as the relationship between maternal mortality and malnutrition, perceptions of motherhood, the management of maternity and child welfare services, the importance of antenatal and postnatal care provided by midwives and the training of midwifery students.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1929 the Ministry of Health set up a Departmental Committee, under the chairmanship by George Newman, to examine the causes of maternal mortality. The need to address this issue had been highlighted by another committee established the previous year, which had investigated the training and practices of midwives.

The Maternal Mortality Committee concluded that two essential measures were needed to secure a reduction in maternal mortality. These were 1) general and sustain efforts to enlighten women of the importance of antenatal supervision, and 2) the improvement and expansion of maternity services.

The Royal College of Midwives (formally known as the Midwives Institute) was involved in providing evidence to the Departmental Committee on Maternal Mortality and went on to play a vital role in influencing the reforms that followed.


The original order of material is retained, although where this is not possible the arrangement of files has been based on the functions and activities of the organisation as well as chronology, subject and the needs of users.

Conditions Governing Access

Permission is required for external access to records less than twenty years old. Also restrictions apply if material includes personal information of living individuals. All other records are open to research by appointment, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. For further information about accessing the collection and visiting the reading room, please contact:

Acquisition Information

There is no record of the source or date of acquisition before this material was deposited under the terms of a collection care agreement 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 collection are available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright belongs to the Royal College of Midwives. To reproduce this material, please apply via the College Archivist:

Custodial History

This collection was previously held at the Royal College of Midwives.