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Rare Book and Special Collections Division



The Domestic Sphere
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“Child birth.” John Norman. Engraving. From William Smellie, An Abridgement of the Practice of Midwifery (Boston: Printed and sold by J. Norman, 1786; RG93.S63 Toner), plates 23-24. Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

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Early midwifery and obstetrics gather in class RG93 and include works like Charles White's A Treatise on the Management of Pregnant and Lying in Women . . . (Worcester, Mass.: Isaiah Thomas, 1793; RG93.W5 1793 Am Imp) . The first American edition of William Smellie's An Abridgement of the Practice of Midwifery (Boston: J. Norman, 1786; RG93.S63 Toner) contains thirty-nine engravings of the birth process and eighteenth-century obstetrical equipment.

Outlines of Theory and Practice of Midwifery and A Treatise on the Management of Female Complaints by the Scottish doctor Alexander Hamilton are also in the collections in many U.S. editions. The subject heading “Obstetrics—Early works to 1800” will lead the researcher to these and similar studies. Most of such early medical books are in the Joseph Meredith Toner Collection. A Washington physician and a medical historian, Dr. Toner gave his extensive collection to the Library in 1882. His collection includes books on early gynecology, obstetrics, midwifery, women's hospitals, and advice to new mothers (all of which are classed in RG).

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