Martha Ballard lived through most of the 18th century. The infantile cry of early America pierced the quiet throughout this remarkable woman’s life. Her surviving diary unveils her busy life as a midwife in Maine, detailing nuances of the era and the secret world of childbirth during the 1700s. We see from her diary that a midwife’s role not only entailed assisting in childbirth, but caring for the sick and dying as well. Martha Ballard was an incredibly busy woman. The constant pace of Martha’s work is surprisingly similar to modern ambitious lifestyles.
There is a great website hosted by The Center for History and New Media that enriches the book and movie experience, A Midwife’s Tale at http://dohistory.org/. The site offers a magic lens that can be hovered over the diary pages to instantly transcribe Martha’s script. The diary is also broken down into transcribed relevant categories, some of which include her accounts of a scarlet fever epidemic and a murderous scandal. Especially helpful to genealogists, there is a separate section that provides tips on transcribing original documents and other research information.