American College of Community Midwives 
A professional organization for Community Midwives


Front Page



Newly  Discovered...


Historical  Documents...

For birth activists working on policy and legislation
 and for midwifery student


 On the list of required reading for midwifery students,
 this should be at the top of the list!

 Posted  ~ February 19, 2009  My most exciting "find" so far in 2009

~ a 1914 book called "Painless Childbirth" that extols
the virtues of scopolamine and morphine in labor

If you ever wondered what it would be like to sit down and interview the famous obstetricians who practiced in the 1910-1930 era, you have to read this book. It is a treasure trove of information on attitudes, early policies and practices and trivia. One factoid was the graduation requirement for Johns Hopkins Medical School, which was to have attended the childbirth of 10 women .

Topics covered are:

Scopolamine, policies instituted by Dr J. Whitridge Williams, obstetrical education and clinical training, the new ideas of universal hospitalization and operative obstetrics as the norm, how to convince women to come to the hospital for normal childbirth, how promote these ideas to the public so as to convince them to pay for then with state and federal funds and how to attract philanthropists to build new hospitals and create obstetrical charities to serve poor women.

The author of Painless Childbirth is Henry Smith Williams, who was born 3 years before John Whitridge Williams and outlived him by 12 years, In addition to sharing the same surname, both were MDs and both devoted their life to studying and writing academic publications in the field of medical science. Despite consider searching, I could not determine if they were related to one another. It seems likely, as about half of H. Smith William's book on painless childbirth was devoted to promoting J. Whitridge Williams, his ideas and his professional aspirations. From the reverent tone and sheer volume of words, one must concluded that H. Smith was either J. Whitridge's press agent or his brother or other close relative.

Here is the author's bio from an advertisement for "Painless Childbirth"

Dr. Henry Smith Williams is one of our very few physicians and scientists of national reputation, combining as he does an expert knowledge of medical facts, a position of authority in his profession, and a remarkable gilt for straightforward, un-technical writing that all can understand and enjoy. Beginning his practice of medicine in 1884, he has held many positions of honor and trust, such as Medical Superintendent of the New York Infant Asylum, and the Randall's Island Hospitals, New York; Assistant Physician to Bloomingdale Asylum; and has written many authoritative books on medical and related subjects, notably: "A History of Science" , "The Wonder of Science in Modern Life", "Miracles of Science", "Adding Years to Your Life", etc., etc., also editor of "The Historians' History of the World." He has also contributed many notable articles to McClure's Magazine and to medical journals.

Advertisement for the book Painless Childbirth

Part 1  The development of scopolamine as an amnesic drug for labor

Part 2 -- Everything you EVER wanted to know about the inventions, development, prejudices, etc of American obstetrics as told by Dr. J. Whitridge Williams

Part 3 -- Convincing the "laity" The Politics of convincing the "laity" to accept and support the drive by the "new obstetrics" for universal hospitalization and operative obstetrics as the norm, followed by strategies to and to attract philanthropists with very deep pocket the give large sums of money to fund this ideas -- a plan best described as "build it, they will come".

Post February 19, 2009

This historical gem was written in the mid- to late 1920s. Its like reading the minds of the entire medical profession about fifty interesting & controversial topics.

It's revealing, shocking, edifying -- anything but boring,  2 thumbs up, required reading for all students of midwifery

The Expectant Mother Four Parts ~
(1) Pregnancy including advice to never use the services of a midwife
(2) Childbirth includes Twilight Sleep, other anesthetics
(3) Newborn  care and development
(4) Infant Feeding ~ Breast and Bottle

The Mother and Her Child

By William S. Sadler, M.D., Lena K. Sadler, M.D.  

Written sometime between 1923 & 1930

About the Author: Dr. William S. Sadler M.D. was a well-known American psychiatrist and college teacher in the school of medicine at the University of Chicago. For over sixty years he practiced his profession in Chicago, thirty-three years being associated in practice with his wife, Dr Lena Kellogg Sadler. The doctors were pioneers in the research on the mysterious Urantia Papers.

Click pic to return to Home Page