Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is the 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University and a past president of the American Historical Association. A former MacArthur Fellow, she is the author of many articles and books on early American history, including A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary, 1785–1812 (1990), which won the Pulitzer Prize. She is also the author of Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History (2007) and A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women's Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 (2017).
This lecture compares the life of Patty Sessions, a midwife who was part of the Mormon migration in the 1840s, with Martha Moore Ballard, the subject of my 1990 book, A Midwife's Tale. Born only a few miles from where Ballard lived, Sessions's daily diaries show what did and did not change in the practice of midwifery in the 19th century.