Braided Umbilical Tape

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 Bonfante. 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.
Cylindrical glass bottle with screw top containing 20 yards of white braided (carbonized) string wound inside and protruding 2 cm. 20 yards. Tape is fed through a small hole in a cork that is sealed in the neck of bottle, tan paper label on the bottle has black printing. The tape was part of a midwife's kit from Buffalo, NY about 1920.
Currently not on view
Jeffrey-Fell Company
place made
United States: New York, Buffalo
Physical Description
glass (container material)
paper (label material)
cork (lid material)
plant fiber (part: tape material)
overall: 3 in x 1 1/4 in; 7.62 cm x 3.175 cm
container: 7 cm x 3.5 cm; 2 3/4 in x 1 3/8 in
overall: 9 cm x 3.5 cm; 3 17/32 in x 1 3/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift from Joseph Badlotto in memory of Rosa Bonfante and her daughter Mary Bonfante Chirchirillo Badlotto
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Midwife Kit
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Add a comment about this object