Midwives in Montana
Women in early Montana helped mothers deliver babies in all sorts of places, from cabins to shanties to teepees. Folks called them midwives and they were respected members of their communities. Within a century, though, midwives were targeted and told to quit their work. This is the story of the women who fought for the right to birth at home and the state legislature that acted to protect their profession.
Mary Kassmeier: Midwife on the Upper Missouri
Midwives attended a majority of births in Montana in the early 1900s, but their work rarely entered the historical record. Mary Catherine Reicks Kassmeier, a Fort Benton midwife, was a noteworthy exception. She documented the infants she helped bring into the world by collecting pictures in a photo album – one for each baby delivered. Kassmeier helped pregnant women in communities along the Upper Missouri, and established a practice by attending births on her own, assisting physicians, and delivering in the local hospital.