The Brodhead Maternity Home: Care, Connection, and Community in Eastern Montana

Dublin Core

Title

The Brodhead Maternity Home: Care, Connection, and Community in Eastern Montana

Subject

child rearing-history, maternity homes, lying-in homes, nursing, midwifery, Montana

Description

Turn-of-the-century residents in rural areas of the American West struggled to survive without publicly provided health infrastructure. In towns across Montana, from Whitefish to Malta, maternity homes filled this healthcare void, and practitioners like Catherine Brodhead provided an essential community service. Brodhead apprenticed herself to a doctor at the age of fourteen, and as a young teenager, she assisted at births and helped with diagnosis and basic surgery. She married, settled in Montana in 1910, and began caring for her community as a traveling physician. Eventually, she opened the Brodhead Maternity Home – the only healthcare facility in the region at that time – in Fairview, Montana, and operated it until her last delivery in 1949. At this early hospital, Brodhead hosted six to eight patients at a time. She assisted pregnant women and also nursed area residents suffering from chronic disease or recuperating from serious illness. Maternity homes, common throughout the state but especially important in Eastern Montana’s rural communities, formed a rudimentary healthcare system. Providers like Catherine Brodhead participated in this informal structure that operated regionally from the mid-1800s through the 1940s.

Publisher

Digital image held by the Women's Reproductive History Alliance (WRHA); original photograph in the care of the Sundheim/Brodhead/Cayko family. Citation should include WRHA identifier.

Date

1920s-1940s

Rights

In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted

Format

Varies: photographs, physical objects

Language

English

Identifier

WRHA Identifier (Year-Series-Item)

Contributor

Gift of the Brodhead, Sundheim, and Cayko Families.

Coverage

Eastern Montana, U.S.A.

Creator

Women's Reproductive History Alliance http://womensreproductivehistoryalliance.org

Collection Items

Catherine Brodhead Photograph - 1940s
In this 1940s-era image of Catherine Brodhead, a grandchild can be glimpsed through the screen just over Brodhead's right shoulder.

Brodhead Maternity Hospital Photograph
Built on the edge of Fairview, Montana, by Lou Newlon, an early land developer in 1911, the structure that housed the Brodhead Maternity Home, shown in this image, still stands and commands a view of the surrounding town and farmland.

Surgical Light
Surgical light used by Catherine Brodhead in her practice at the Brodhead Maternity Home.

Operating Table
Operating and delivery table used by Catherine Brodhead in her practice at the Brodhead Maternity Home.

Sanitizer
Sanitizer used by Catherine Brodhead in her practice at the Brodhead Maternity Home to sterilize instruments.

Baby Basket
Basket used for newborn infants to sleep in by Catherine Brodhead in her practice at the Brodhead Maternity Home.

Linens
Linens used by Catherine Brodhead in her practice at the Brodhead Maternity Home.

Wallet and Contents
Catherine Brodhead's wallet that she always carried, along with a pharmacy receipt from her last illness.

Platter
This platter was used by Catherine Brodhead in serving meals to and caring for patients at the Brodhead Maternity Home.

Teapot
This teapot was used by Catherine Brodhead in serving and caring for patients at the Brodhead Maternity Home.
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