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The Court Midwife

Edited and Translated by Lynne Tatlock
First published in 1690, The Court Midwife made Justine Siegemund (1636-1705) the spokesperson for the art of midwifery at a time when most obstetrical texts were written by men. More than a technical manual, The Court Midwife contains descriptions of obstetric techniques of midwifery and its attendant social pressures. Siegemund’s visibility as a writer, midwife, and proponent of an incipient professionalism accorded her a status virtually unknown to German women in the seventeenth century. Translated here into English for the first time, The Court Midwife contains riveting birthing scenes, sworn testimonials by former patients, and a brief autobiography.

280 pages | 44 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2005

The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe

History: European History

History of Science

Literature and Literary Criticism: Germanic Languages


Religion: Christianity

Women's Studies


"[Tatlock] crafts an accessible --yet stylistically sensitive--translation of the seventeenth-century German original, and also convinces us . . . of the work’s diverse significance to literary criticism, gender studies, scholarship on early modern literacy, book publication and education, as well as the history of western medicine. . . . Tatlock’s work on this edition and translation . . . is worthy of Siegemund’s own meticulous efforts."

Christine Thuau | Comitatus

"A fascinating glimpse into the history and life and times of women and birth."

Donna Harvel Balo | Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health

“A welcome addition to the University of Chicago Press’s series The Other Voice. That a work on childbirth authored by a women about her own craft appears in the series epitomizes how profoundly women authors, and especially female medical authors, violated gender and professional boundaries. . . . Tatlock has made a valuable contribution to the history of medicine, mid-wifery, and the body by smoothly translating and editing this important work. Her introduction, notes, and glossary help greatly to put the text into its historical contexts.”

Alison Klairmont-Lingo | Renaissance Quarterly

"This fascinating book makes available in English the work of a seventeenth-century midwife who became famous for her skills in handling difficult births. . . . The Court Midwife represents not only an illustrated textbook for seventeenth-century midwives, but . . . also provides a social commentary on the time. Lynne Tatlock’s careful translation and edition of the text offer vivid insights into early modern medical and obstetric technology and care, social networks, women’s lives, communal health care systems, educational institutions, the profession of midwifery, its legal implications and more."

Almut Spalding | H-Net Book Review

"Offer[s] much to the scholar and the student of early modern history and not just to those interested in Germany, women . . . or medicine."

Mary Lindemann | Clio

"Tatlock’s rendition of Siegemund’s book will be embraced eagerly by medical and lay readers. . . . Siegemund’s text has drama, joy, and even a bitter dispute between a skilled midwife and a jealous and conniving doctor. . . . Sections of the text can be incorporated into an array of classroom settings including courses on women and medicine, women’s literature, the history of medicine, and the history of nursing."

Karol K. Weaver | Nursing History Review

"Tatlock’s thorough introduction places this text and midwifery in Germany in their cultural and historical contexts. . . . The bibliography . . . provides a treasure trove of sources for anyone wishing to investigate the subject further."

Mara R. Wade | Sixteenth Century Journal

Table of Contents

Series Editors’ Introduction
Volume Editor’s Introduction
Volume Editor’s Bibliography

The Court Midwife of the Electorate of Brandenburg
Dedicatory Letters
Author’s Introduction
Part 1
Part 2

Appendix A: Original Table of Contents
Appendix B: Glossary of New and Old Gynecological and Obstetric Terms
Series Editors’ Bibliography


Society for the Study of Early Modern Women: Society for the Study of Early Modern Women
Honorable Mention

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