Smithsonian museums continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

Braided Umbilical Tape

Braided Umbilical Tape

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
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 container with screw grooves at neck. White braided string (carbonized) wound inside and protrudes from bottle 8.5 cm. 20 yards. Bottle is stopped with cork which has a small hole at center with tape fed through. White paper label with black and red printing. Two large red L's with a dash between surrounded by the outline of a C and O. Paper wrapper surrounds bottle. Was used as part of a midwives kit from Buffalo, NY about 1920.
Currently not on view
Object Name
tape, umbilical
midwife's kit
date made
after 1904
Lyons-Laeri Company
place made
United States: Ohio, Youngstown
Physical Description
glass (container material)
cork (lid material)
paper (packaging material)
overall: 3 3/4 in x 1 1/4 in; 9.525 cm x 3.175 cm
container: 7.25 cm x 3.75 cm; 2 27/32 in x 1 15/32 in
overall: 7.5 cm x 6 cm; 2 15/16 in x 2 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
Women's Health
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Midwife Kit
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object