Midwives Tales

January 31, 2007
Gentle touch: Untitled  (Next day continuing care),  captures a midwife in  Albany, Georgia, in 1952

Gentle touch: Untitled (Next day continuing care), captures a midwife in Albany, Georgia, in 1952. Photo courtesy of Robert Galbraith

Reclaiming Midwives: Stills from All My Babies," a traveling exhibition of photographs by Robert Galbraith that explore the lives and experiences of black midwives in Georgia in the early 1950s, will be on view at the Center for Documentary Studies through April 2.

Galbraith was a cameraman for George C. Stoney's 1953 film All My Babies, produced by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Georgia Department of Public Health, and intended as an instructional tool for the midwives still delivering most of the babies in rural Georgia at the time. The film, featuring midwife Mary Francis Hill Coley of Albany, Georgia, has been used to train midwives around the world.

"Galbraith's photographs tell a collective story about the multifaceted experience of midwifery as an intimate and embracing experience for women of varying ages," says Deborah Willis, University Professor of Photography and Imaging at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

"To me, the subtext of these photographs is more than the fact that family life is central to the stories of midwives," she says. "Delivering and having a baby are dramatic events in most families. These photographs are filled with striking examples. Galbraith is a compassionate photographer who has documented a cultural tradition that continues to this day."