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A Midwife Tale, A Book By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

A Midwife Tale, a book by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich revolves around the life of Martha Ballard; a midwife in the Northern New England. In this book, Laurel examines the early American republic and the ordinary life of people living there. Moreover, she reminds us of the women role in households and society. On the other hand, New York Burning by Jill Lepore, recounts and recreates the budding New York City of the late seventeenth century. She shows and explores the political and social life of people living in the region at that particular time. This essay seeks to compare the different methodologies used by Laurel Thatcher in A Midwife Tale and by Jill Lepore in New York Burning.

A Midwife Tale utilizes the qualitative research methodologies to exemplify the eighteenth and nineteenth History and Culture in the American Human societies. Significant events have been shown either by the use of written and even oral histories as acknowledged by citizens living within a given era and society. Oral histories are usually in the form of legends, songs and myths delivered orally. Written histories on the other hand, often take the form of recorded journals, diaries, written narratives and official documents retrieved from a particular period in history.

More often than not, written histories are utilized because they provide more of the physical evidence required to substantiate the events in a given story. Laurel Ulrich has utilized the written histories to analyze the lives of women in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Particularly, she has based most of her work on the Diary of Martha Ballard. Through this diary, Laurel reveals the experience and lifestyle in the eighteenth century from Ballard’s and society perspective. Ulrich puts more emphasis on Ballard’s accounts of life and their importance because she considers Ballard’s diary as monument to an extraordinary life and evidence to the fragile network that links one generation to others. Additionally, the diary also makes it possible for readers to see the image and personality of Ballard as knowledgeable and science oriented lady.

Though New York Burning utilizes the qualitative methodologies, Lepore’s work is based on a journal. By necessity, she draws most of her research work from a journal written by Justice Daniel Horsmanden; a New York Supreme Court Judge. The document was written in the year seventeen forty four and it described as the most shocking and annoying documents in the early history of the American people. By adding political and cultural context to the journal, Lepore raises questions on whether conspiracy really existed or it was the blind fear that resulted in guilty verdicts for very many American slaves. Using the journal, Lepore not only confronts us with an awful conclusion, but also provides us with some background on the origin of attitudes of the whites living in New York towards all their slaves.

All in all, this essay has focused on two books; A Midwife Tale and New York Burning which remind us of the History of the American people. They remind us on the value of humanity to human lives and the importance of women to the society therefore the need to uphold and respect them.

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