Forget Leaving Room for Jesus: Fornication and Community Control in Transitional New England

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the earliest times to the present day. This month, Frances Norman, a final year undergraduate student at the University of Hertfordshire, shares some insights into pre-marital sexual behaviour and pregnancy in the Atlantic world.

In July 1791 Sally Peirce ‘Swore a Child’ on Jonathon Ballard, the son of Martha Ballard, an eighteenth-century New England midwife who recorded her life across almost 10,000 diary entries. [1] Sally’s child was born in October of the same year and she and Jonathon married in January 1792. The eighteenth-century was a transitional period for sexual control across America and within New England, which was more sexually restrictive than urban areas of the country. [2] Sally’s pregnancy offers insight into premarital sexual relationships, as well as the role of community and familial control in courtship, pre-marital relationships, and the wider policing of sexuality.

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Midwifery Knowledge in Late 18th and Early 19th Century Germany

Submitted by Marystella Ramirez Guerra, PhD candidate, Germany.

Key words: popular medicine, childbirth, German midwives

During the late Eighteength and early Nineteenth Century there was an increase in publications that claimed to provide medical information and advice to the general reading public in most German speaking lands (here understood as all territories in current Germany and Austria, though for the project itself, the focus will be much more geographically reduced). These were the result of a state-guided movement to improve the population’s overall health as an asset for the strengthening of state.

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Poverty, Poor-relief, and Charity in Long Eighteenth-Century Britain (c.1688-1832)

Submitted by Megan Webber, School of Humanities, University of Hertfordshire, UK.

Key words: charities, lying-in hospitals, poor-relief

Historians of poverty, poor-relief, and charity in long eighteenth-century Britain (c.1688-1832) have defined plebeian “agency” in multiple ways. My PhD dissertation aims to provide a nuanced picture of agency within early nineteenth-century London charities, exploring how individual charities’ unique blends of discourse, policy, management, spatial arrangement, and situation within broader networks of relief affected how, and under what conditions, the poor exerted their influence.

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