An Instrument of Gender: Re-evaluating the Role of the Male-Midwife and the Lying-in Chamber in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century England

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Guy M. Sechrist


This essay examines the process by which men became midwives by examing how the use of forceps enabled men to access women's space.

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Author Biography

Guy M. Sechrist

Guy M. Sechrist holds a BA in history from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, and an MA in history from Villanova University. While at Villanova, Guy was a research contractor for the Chemical Heritage Foundation, worked for the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and served as an editor for CONCEPT in 2016. He was recently awarded a pre-doctoral residency at Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks before becoming a graduate student in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge.  His research topics include a variety of seventeenth and eighteenth-century English histories of science and medicine. He has completed a series of works on the role of midwives as healers in both Richard Napier’s casebooks and Nicholas Culpeper’s Directory. Recently, he has begun to focus on the role of mathematical instrumentation, taxation, and measurement in order to highlight the role of standardization in commerce, natural history, and science. This work has come out of his interest in herbal medicine, plant transportation, and scientific enquiry in England and the Atlantic world.