Vaginal Speculum

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.
A double articulated vaginal speculum with two folding handles and an adjustment rod. The handle attached to a top retractor has an oval- shaped indentation on its exterior when unfolded. The hinge for this handle is composed of a bar with a bolt on one side. A handle attached to the bottom retractor has ridges on its exterior. An adjustable rod attaches at the same hinge as the bottom handle. Screw ridges are present on the rod with an adjustor. A detached bulb with a side screw opening rests above the adjustor. Retractors are attached to each other with screw hinges. the speculum was part of a midwife's kit from Buffalo, NY about 1920.
Currently not on view
Object Name
speculum, vaginal
midwife's kit
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
overall: 2 in x 5 1/2 in x 1 3/4 in; 5.08 cm x 13.97 cm x 4.445 cm
overall, maximum (exhibit or expanded): 15 cm x 16 cm x 6 cm; 5 29/32 in x 6 5/16 in x 2 3/8 in
overall, minimum (shipping, storage, or collapsed): 14 in x 6 cm x 6 cm; 35.56 cm x 2 3/8 in x 2 3/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Women's Health
Health & Medicine
Midwife Kit
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Midwife Kit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift from Joseph Badlotto in memory of Rosa Bonfante and her daughter Mary Bonfante Chirchirillo Badlotto

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