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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.
Metal case containing a glass syringe of 25 mm and 1.5 milliters with red markings, four metal needles of various sizes, and a spare mechanism for holding needles. All stored on and covered by layers of cotton. This syringe was used as part of a midwives kit from Buffalo, NY about 1920.
Currently not on view
Object Name
midwife's kit
Meinecke and Company
place made
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
metal (container material)
glass (part: syringe material)
wire (part: needles material)
metal (part: needles material)
overall: 3/4 in x 3 1/2 in x 1 1/8 in; 1.905 cm x 8.89 cm x 2.8575 cm
part: syringe: 6.6 cm x 1.2 cm; 2 19/32 in x 15/32 in
overall: 8.9 cm x 2.7 cm x 2 cm; 3 1/2 in x 1 1/16 in x 25/32 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
Women's Health
Surgical instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Midwife Kit
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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