This biography, written by a second party in conjunction with the person whose story is portrayed, is the tale of a black lay-midwife working in the southern United States during the mid to latter part of the 20th century. Gladys Milton, mother of seven children herself, is called to midwifery training by the Health Department in a rural county in Florida.

After an introductory chapter that sets the stage for the ultimate challenge to Gladys, the following few chapters follow her through some of the high points of her childhood and early years of motherhood. The remainder of the work describes broadly the career--with its ups and downs--of Gladys as midwife, doing home deliveries and working in the birthing center she has established in her own home. The final chapters deal with the legal efforts and ultimately the hearing in which the Health Department attempts to revoke Gladys's license to deliver babies.


As literature, this book lacks sophistication, editorial polish, and a clearly defined purpose. Much of this may be the result of the manner in which it was constructed. A friend of Mrs. Bovard becomes her biographer, but the voice of the writer seems more in keeping with what we might expect Gladys herself to say.

The lack of clarity about voice and intended audience muddies the work; however, the information in this book leads the reader to profoundly admire the tenacity and the obvious desire to help others manifest by Gladys Bovard. The book gives us a rare view into the lives and work of lay midwives attempting to function in modern Western culture.


The Book Publishing Co.

Place Published

Summertown, Tenn.



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