Writing Midwives' History: Problems and Pitfalls
Allotey, Janette C
Midwifery 2011 Apr; 27(2): 131-7
As more midwives are becoming interested in the history of midwifery and carrying out historical research, it is opportune to consider some of the problems and pitfalls of this approach. The study and writing of history initially involves the collection of evidence, followed by its critical analysis and interpretation. The scarcity and reliability of sources poses the first problem. Even with the greatest of insight, it is impossible to fully reconstruct the past and eliminate bias. Evidence is open to manipulation and distortion, affecting the way in which findings are presented to a readership. This paper, aimed at novice researchers in the field, focuses on some of the fundamental principles of good research, and contains examples of ways in which the past may be misinterpreted or changed. The nature and construction of professional knowledge will also be briefly examined to establish whether objectivity is possible within historical research.
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