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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.
Black leather bag with four round metal feet, one black leather handle on each side, and a metal buckle on one side. A strap to close the bag has detached and is kept inside. The interior is tan, brown, and yellow plaid, with one pocket, opening and bottom rim have interior metal support. the bottom has a stamp depicting a G and two letters, possibly both o's within. the bag was part of a midwives kit from Buffalo, NY about 1920.
Currently not on view
Object Name
satchel, leather
midwife's kit
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
metal (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
overall: 11 in x 15 in x 7 in; 27.94 cm x 38.1 cm x 17.78 cm
overall: 39 cm x 21.5 cm x 26 cm; 15 11/32 in x 8 15/32 in x 10 1/4 in
ID Number
nonaccession 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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