Documenting the Duke Midwifery Service and Durham Maternal Health Oral History Project

Starting in August 2021, we’ve highlighted the Medical Center Archives’ rich oral history collection of over 350 interviews spanning from the 1960s to present day. These oral histories provide a space for the medical center’s history to be told in the words of the individuals who witnessed and participated in that history. Capturing these interviews ensures that the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants are added to the historical record.

In Part 8 of this series, we want to introduce you to our newest group of oral histories documenting Duke’s involvement with maternal health in Durham from the late 1990s and into the 21st century through interviews with members of the Duke Midwifery Service (DMS) and the Durham County Health Department. These oral histories were made possible with a grant from The Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation Endowment Fund.

In 2021, the Medical Center Archives received a donation of archival materials from Amy MacDonald, CNM, MSN, who was DMS Director from 1999 to 2014. The Duke Midwifery Service Records [] are processed and opened to researchers. The materials in this collection document a program and type of medical care that was previously not represented in our archives’ holdings. The donation of these records provided us with an opportunity to further examine the relationship between maternal health in Durham and the role that Duke has played, and, while we anticipate these materials will be of value to future researchers, they only tell a partial story of maternal health in Durham.

In order to tell a more complete story we sought and obtained funding to capture the unique stories from nurse midwives and other birth workers in Durham, North Carolina, during this time period. These interviews provide first-hand accounts of the history of the DMS, social and institutional relationships between Duke and Durham, and maternal health.

The following oral history interviews were conducted and are open for researchers
•    Tasha Allen, RN (early group prenatal care nurse) 
•    Kim Q. Đâu, CNM, MSN (Duke undergrad, Duke Midwifery Service 2007-2010) 
•    Amy MacDonald CNM, MSN (Director, Duke Midwifery Service, first inpatient nurse midwife at Duke in 1999) 
•    Helen M. Mikul CNM, MSN (founding CNM of Duke Midwifery Service) 
•    Antionette (Ann) Milligan-Barnes (nurse coordinator for Centering Pregnancy)

Tasha AllenKim Q. DauAmy MacDonaldHelen MikulAnn Milligan-Barnes

Transcripts are available on MEDSpace, our digital repository: Duke Midwifery Service and Durham Maternal Health Oral History Project

To review the 6 previous pieces on our oral history program, see below for a brief description of each piece with a link to the full article.

Part 1: “Archives Oral Histories" 
This article outlined what an oral history is and the types of oral histories held at the Medical Center Archives.

Part 2: "Women in Duke Health" 
This article showcased the newly redesigned and updated online exhibit, “Women in Duke Health”, which contains unique historical perspectives from women in multiple fields at Duke, many who were pioneers or “firsts” in some way in their disciplines. Collecting oral histories from the woman honored in this exhibit allowed these women the space to tell their own stories.

Part 3: "Black History Oral Histories at the Medical Center Archives"
This article highlighted interviews that document the experiences of Black individuals at Duke Health.

Part 4: “David C. Sabiston Oral History Project”
This article highlighted the oral history project initiated by the Department of Surgery to collect firsthand accounts and memories from people who knew Dr. David C. Sabiston in order to write a definitive biography on the former Chair of the Department of Surgery.

Part 5: “Department of Medicine Oral History Project”
This article discussed the recent history of the Department of Medicine through the voices of its faculty in the Department of Medicine Oral History Project.

Part 6: “Department of Surgery Chief Residents Oral History Project” 
This article introduced a fairly new oral history project that began in 2018, which collects annual interviews with the Department of Surgery’s Chief Residents as a way to document their experiences at Duke.

Part 7: Archives Oral Histories: Preserving the Past & Present for the Future 
This article reviews Parts 1-6 of the Oral History Series.
Users can find oral history transcripts located in the Oral History Collection on MEDSpace. Oral history finding aids are located on the Archives’ Collections Listing.

If you have any questions about the Archives’ oral histories or any of its collections, please contact the Archives staff.

This blog post was contributed by Medical Center Archives Assistant Director Lucy Waldrop.