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  • Midwife Saint: Mary Francis Hill Coley

    Mary Francis Hill Coley was the midwife to thousands of babies and helped Albany's families, both black and white, with her progressive views towards childcare at the time. Not only did Coley deliver babies, she supported new families by organizing necessary forms and lending a hand with chores around the house. Her efforts were nationally recognized in 1952 when the documentary All My Babies was filmed about her role in the Albany community and used by the Georgia Health Department as an instructional training film.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. Explain how Mary Coley's role as a midwife was unique in the segregated South.

    2. Compare and contrast deliveries under Mary Coley during this time with the way you were delivered.

    Expansion

    1. Design a movie poster for Mary Coley's documentary, All My Babies. The poster may be hand drawn or created digitally.

    Vocabulary

    midwife: a person (usually a woman) who helps a woman when she is giving birth to a child
    apprentice: a person who learns a job or skill by working for a fixed period of time for someone who is very good at that job or skill
    segregation: the practice or policy of keeping people of different races separate from each other

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. Explain how Mary Coley's role as a midwife was unique in the segregated South.
    Mary Coley, an African-American midwife, delivered over 3,000 babies in and around Albany, Georgia. During this time, Georgia was racially segregated, but Mary Coley delivered both white and black babies, an uncommon practice among many medical professionals. 

    2. Compare and contrast deliveries under Mary Coley during this time with the way you were delivered. 
    Student answers may vary, but most will respond saying that they were delivered at a hospital. Mary Coley often spent several days with new moms and their babies in their homes--something very uncommon today that would likely only be afforded by the very wealthy.

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