Personal profile

Research interests

I have carried out funded research into aspects of teaching and learning in midwifery, but my primary focus is on histories of maternity care.  I have published extensively on the history of midwifery and maternity in the twentieth century, including The social history of maternity care published by Routledge in 2012.  I have published on aspects of midwifery identity and professionalism from the late nineteenth century, and have made use of oral history to explore the working lives of both district and hospital midwives in the post-war period. My current work is on the development of policy and practice in maternity between 1960-2000, particularly narratives of risk and normality; the development and impact of technology; and development of media in reflecting and ‘selling’ narratives of pregnancy and birth.

I am Co-I on an AHRC funded project exploring histories of risk in childbirth with colleagues from a range of universities (Leeds, Warwick, Cambridge, OU) and disciplines (history, midwifery, classics, philosophy, sociology).  This work has so far resulted in a series of workshops; a panel presentation at the conference of the Society for the Social History of Medicine; and a travelling exhibition in conjunction with the Thackray Museum in Leeds; and a website including a ‘birth stories’ segment.  An edited book collection is under development, together with a play commissioned for the project (which will be the subject of a follow-on funding bid to the AHRC).

I am working with the Science Museum in London to develop a midwifery exhibition, and a collaborative doctoral award proposal – likely to be based on the foetus as patient.

I am also working with a colleague from Heidelberg on histories of maternity magazines focussing on the presentation of the ‘invention’ of the foetus in the post-war period.  This builds on my work on narratives of birth and risk seen in the publication ‘Mother and Baby’ magazine. 

Linked to this I am Co-I on a developing bid to EHRC with colleagues from Leicester and Kings which seeks to explore women’s practices around digital media in the child-bearing year.  This project has a strong embedded historical approach, which will contextualise and illuminate current issues and beliefs.

Finally I am in the early stages of work on technologies in birth; in particular ultrasound scans.  I am interested in why a technology designed for ‘risky’ pregnancies became an embedded and accepted part of the experience of pregnancy for almost all women from the late 1980s.  I am particularly interested in not just the take up of this technology, but also how it was used, developed and resisted by different consumer and professional constituents. 

Supervisory Interests

I am very interested in supervising PhD studies exploring any aspect of histories of healthcare.  My specific expertise is in midwifery and nursing histories, but I am happy to support projects exploring any healthcare profession.  I have expertise in using both written sources and oral histories.  I would also be interested in supporting any histories of women’s reproductive health, particularly exploring aspects of twentieth century care, policy and the media.  More broadly I would be pleased to support studies using qualitative approaches to explore contemporary aspects of maternity/ midwifery/ women’s health.

Education/Academic qualification

PG Cert Higher Education, University of Nottingham

30 Sept 20091 Jul 2011

Award Date: 1 Jul 2011

Advanced Diploma in Midwifery, University of Sheffield

31 Mar 200031 Mar 2003

Award Date: 31 Mar 2003

PhD, history of maternity in Sheffield 1869-1939, University of Sheffield

30 Sept 19938 Dec 1997

Award Date: 8 Dec 1997

Master, English Local history, University of Leicester

30 Sept 199112 Oct 1992

Award Date: 12 Oct 1992

Bachelor, history, University of Cambridge

1 Oct 19879 Jul 1990

Award Date: 9 Jul 1990

External positions

external examiner, University of East Anglia

1 Sept 201630 Sept 2019


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