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.
Round brass uterine pessary with a spring and two stems used to support the uterus. Pessaries are used in the treatment of a prolapsed uterus.
Currently not on view
Object Name
midwife's kit
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
overall: 3/4 in x 2 1/4 in x 3/4 in; 1.905 cm x 5.715 cm x 1.905 cm
overall: 15.7 cm x 2.2 cm x 2.5 cm; 6 3/16 in x 7/8 in x 31/32 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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