CHOMI Seminar Series – “A curious absence’: Tracing maternal deaths in Irish workhouses at the turn of the twentieth century”, 29th September at 4pm

Please join us on September 29th at 4:00 pm for the first event in our Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland (CHOMI) Autumn seminar series:

“A curious absence’: Tracing maternal deaths in Irish workhouses at the turn of the twentieth century”

Judy Bolger (Trinity College Dublin)

The history of Irish maternity services has focused largely on the nascent period of the early and mid-twentieth-century when the health of parturition women warranted attention from State officials and the subsequent improvement in maternal mortality rates. However, little scholarly attention has focused on such topics in the preceding decades when the facilities of maternal care were less cohesive and assessible. In the final years of the Poor Law in Ireland, the workhouse facilitated an ad-hoc form of maternal care which impoverished women utilised during childbirth. This paper examines the rate of maternal death within these Poor Law establishments focusing on the use of nosology within cause-of-death classification and through the use of maternal death case-studies to ascertain the role of the workhouse in poor women’s reproductive health. This research is constructed and framed through a broader analysis of large data extracted from the annual reports of the ‘Local Board of Governments’ and ‘Registrar General of Marriage, Birth and Death’, and supplemented with a micro-history assessment of maternal mortality from individual workhouse records and birth and death certifications. While the classification of maternal death was often misused or conflated, this paper addresses the direct evidence of death by ‘childbirth’ to determine if impoverished women were afforded with adequate maternal care services within the workhouses.

Register here to attend digitally: https://ucd-ie.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_z4KqVjtxRTmwL9wMqC9YjQ

For in-person attendees, seminars will take place between 4 and 5pm Dublin Time at the UCD School of
History, Newman Building, Room K114.

You can find the full research seminar programme here: https://www.ucd.ie/chomi/research/sems/


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