Graves' Vaginal Speculum

Graves' Vaginal Speculum

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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.
Bi-valve vaginal speculum. the top retractor has a fixed handle that descends, and is attached to an adjustment rod. the bottom retractor descends into a handle and curves forward at bottom. A wishbone-shaped piece attaches top and bottom retractors at the handle to allow for sliding adjustment, a lever adjustment rod attached to this piece as well. The rod has a screw cap. A screw cap is also on handle to keep the bottom retractor in place. 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 3/4 in x 5 in; 5.08 cm x 14.605 cm x 12.7 cm
overall, maximum (exhibit or expanded): 14 cm x 17 cm x 5.5 cm; 5 1/2 in x 6 11/16 in x 2 5/32 in
overall, minimum (shipping, storage, or collapsed): 15 cm x 12 cm x 5.5 cm; 5 29/32 in x 4 23/32 in x 2 5/32 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
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Midwife Kit
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Quite a humble instrument compared with these dated Roman models: When I saw them I had to reflect on 'Dead Ringers,' that David Cronenberg film. FYI,

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