Maier's Polpus Forceps

Description (Brief)
Midwives have been helping deliver babies for millennia. Midwives in the early 20th century, with the advent of big-city hospitals continued to serve the needs of immigrants and rural American women.
The owner of this midwife kit was Rosa Bonfanto. Rosa was from Palermo, Sicily, and immigrated to the United States in 1922, settling first in Buffalo, NY, and later in Albany. Her satchel and its contents, along with her story are shrouded in mystery. Rosa's grandson, Joseph Badlotto, writes in a brief statement that according to family lore, Rosa had an affair in Sicily with Carlo Chirchirillo (the donor's natural grandfather). Born of that affair in 1918 was a baby girl, named Mary (the donor's mother). Carlos and his wife, Felicia, raised the child, and in 1920 immigrated to the United States. Rosa followed about two years later posing as the child's godmother. Years passed before the truth about Mary's parentage became known.
Maier's straight polypus forceps, with catch, and cross-serrated grip measuring 3 centimeters, with a smooth oval interior. Above the screw in the hinge is the KNY-Scheerer Corporation trademark that depicts a Caduceus (professional medical symbol) with a snake in the shape of an S curled around it and a crown above. This instrument is nickel plated and was part of a midwife's kit from Buffalo, NY about 1920.
Currently not on view
Object Name
midwife's kit
date made
ca 1924
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
overall: 1/4 in x 10 1/2 in x 2 3/8 in; .635 cm x 26.67 cm x 6.0325 cm
overall: 26.5 cm x 6 cm x 1 cm; 10 7/16 in x 2 3/8 in x 13/32 in
place made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
accession number
catalog number
Surgical instruments
Women's Health
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Midwife Kit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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