Join us on Thursday, October 27th, at 7 PM for a reading and book signing with author Jennifer Hill from her newest book Birthing the West: Mothers and Midwives in the Rockies and Plains.
Childbirth defines families, communities, and nations. In Birthing the West, Jennifer J. Hill fills the silences around historical reproduction with copious new evidence and an enticing narrative, describing a process of settlement in the American West that depended on the nurturing connections of reproductive caregivers and the authority of mothers over birth.
Economic and cultural development depended on childbirth. Hill's expanded vision suggests that the mantra of cattle drives and military campaigns leaves out essential events and falls far short of an accurate representation of American expansion. The picture that emerges in Birthing the West presents a more complete understanding of the American West: no less moving or engaging than the typical stories of extraction and exploration but concurrently intriguing and complex.
Birthing the West unearths the woman-centric practice of childbirth across Montana, the Dakotas, and Wyoming, a region known as a death zone for pregnant women and their infants. As public health entities struggled to establish authority over its isolated inhabitants, they collaborated with physicians, eroding the power and control of mothers and midwives. The transition from home to hospital and from midwife to doctor created a dramatic shift in the intimately personal act of birth.
About the Author: With a passion for making the everyday realities of past peoples come alive, Jennifer Hill teaches, researches, and writes in the field of American Studies with a particular emphasis on reproductive history and the American West. Her research and writing explore childbirth, contraception, abortion, and healthcare in the American West – an area with a compelling reproductive history. Based on the belief that history is a powerful tool for understanding current controversies, Hill works to interpret women’s historical birthing challenges in ways that inform contemporary reproductive issues. When she is not at work in the classroom or the archives, Hill can be found trail running, gardening, kayaking, or eating.