The records of the Maternity Center Association date from 1907 to 1995, though there is little material before 1918. They document the administrations of General Directors Anne Stevens, 1918-1921, Nancy E. Cadmus, 1922-23; Hazel Corbin, 1923-1965; Vera Keane, 1965-1968; Ruth W. Lubic, 1970-1995; and Maureen Corry, 1995-2014. Included are minutes of boards and committees; correspondence of the General Directors and other staff members; records of the Lobenstine Clinic and School; records of the Childbearing Centers; records of educational and advocacy efforts; fundraising and public relations records; pamphlets and newspaper clippings; scrapbooks; posters; drawings; photographs; and film.
Each series and most sub-series are described separately.
Series 1: Central Files
Central administrative records from 1918 to the mid-1980s. Included are minutes and correspondence of Annual Meetings, the Board of Trustees, and the Medical Board, as well as the correspondence of the General Directors. Every aspect of the Maternity Center Association’s administrative, financial, educational, and advocacy activities is documented here.
The records are arranged according to the central filing system created by MCA about 1921. They are organized in numerical order ranging from 100 to 900, with each general number (100, 300, etc.) having numerous sub-categories (110, 320). Most documents are marked with this identifying three-digit number in their upper left hand corner.
Begun while Nancy Cadmus was General Director, the filing system was maintained during the entire administration of her successor, Hazel Corbin (1923-1965). Although it began to break down during the tenure of Vera Keane (1965-1968), vestiges remained well into the administration of Ruth W. Lubic (1970-1995). In the early 1970s, the MCA administration created another alphabetical subject file that now comprises Series 6. Researchers should be aware that for the transitional period of the 1970s-early 1980s, specific topics may be documented in both Series 1 and Series 6.
Major categories in the central files are as follows:
100 Organization and Administration
Minutes of Annual Meetings (1919-1971, with gaps); correspondence and minutes of the Board of Trustees (1919-1925, 1971-1992); Medical Board correspondence (1919-1939) and minutes (1955-1979); records of conferences and seminars; financial and fundraising records, including those of theater benefits and charity events; staff correspondence; and annual reports (1918-1994).
Records, 1923-1959, of the Lafayette Guild, which became the MCA auxiliary in 1923, and of the Lucky Star Guild, its junior auxiliary.
Records of all aspects of MCA’s educational and advocacy work. Included are records of field work performed in New York City clinics and of books and movies created by the organization. There are copies of speeches and articles by staff members, as well as records of MCA lobbying of federal and state governments on matters affecting maternal health and infant care.
The MCA “Institutes” – nurses’ workshops given both in New York City and around the U.S., 1929-1948 – are extensively documented; in addition, there are many records relating to MCA's collaboration with other organizations on maternal health and childbirth issues.
Extensive records exist for the Association’s innovative Mother’s Day campaigns for better pre-natal care, 1929-1940, and also of its sponsorship of Dickinson and Belskie’s bas-reliefs of the stages of pregnancy, created for the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair.
Records in File #360, “Outside Committee Work,” overlap with file #400, “Relations with Other Agencies.”
400 Relations with Other Agencies
Correspondence and other records documenting MCA’s relations with a wide range of public health, nursing, welfare, and childcare organizations, both governmental and non-profit.
There is significant correspondence with the American Red Cross; American Social Hygiene Association; Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Labor Dept.; Council on Maternity Care; East Harlem Nursing and Health Service; Greater New York Fund; Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.; New York City Dept. of Health; New York State Depts. of Health and of Social Welfare; Parents’ Magazine; and the Welfare Council of New York City.
There are also records, 1921-1924, of the Manhattan Health Society, originally the Manhattanville Health Society, an early experiment to provide pre-paid health care for mothers and children in Manhattan which was undertaken in collaboration with the Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service and New York Diet Kitchen Association.
Reports on the effectiveness of MCA’s work by Louis Dublin of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 1919-1930; and endorsements of its work by others, 1920-1945.
Records of the Hazel Corbin Scholarship including committee minutes, scholarship applications, correspondence, and records to the main funder, the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, 1967-1979.
The Corbin Scholarship provided financial assistance to students enrolled in nurse-midwifery educational programs. It was named in honor of MCA General Director, Hazel Corbin.
900 Miscellaneous Topics
Records of the Maternity Center Association’s significant work promoting midwifery and midwifery education in the U.S. Included are correspondence and other records of the Association for the Promotion & Standardization of Midwifery, 1920-1931, 1940-1949; the National League of Nursing Education’s Midwifery Committee, 1925-1932; and the American Association of Nurse-Midwives, 1932.
There is much documentation on MCA’s collaborative efforts to create nurse-midwife training programs at several medical centers including Booth Memorial Hospital (Philadelphia), Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Kings County Hospital (Brooklyn), and the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center (Brooklyn).
Other records included here are the Board minutes of the Lobenstine Clinic and School, 1931-1961; and MCA efforts relating to birth control and marriage counseling.
Series 2: Dept. of Public Information.
Records of this department which was responsible for public relations, publications, and educational materials, including film and television projects. They are largely from the tenure of Horace H. Hughes, Director, 1936-1970, and his successor, Martin Kelly.
Included are general correspondence relating to MCA newsletters such as Briefs and Special Delivery; drafts of books, pamphlets, and film and television scripts; newspaper and magazine clippings relating to MCA and maternal health issues; and records of MCA workshops and conferences. Extensive documentation exists for the organization’s pioneering film, From Generation to Generation (1959) and its Birth Atlas (1st edition, 1940).
Series 3: Lobenstine Clinic and School
Records of the MCA’s Lobenstine Clinic and School including correspondence, reports, clinical records, student papers, and vertical files.
The correspondence includes substantial documentation relating to the American College of Nurse Midwives, 1954-1972; the midwifery training program for African-American women which Lobenstine operated at the Tuskegee Institute in the 1940s; and the Yale-New Haven Hospital “rooming-in study” of the 1950s.
Vertical files on pregnancy, childbirth, midwifery education, and related topics make up the bulk of this series. These consist of newspaper, magazine, and scientific articles; pamphlets; flyers; and other ephemera, largely from the 1930s to the early 1960s.
Additional records include correspondence of Marion Strachan, director of the midwifery training program, 1958-1970; and registration and delivery books, 1932-1958. Minutes, incorporation papers, and other governance materials can be found in Series 1.
Founded in 1931, the Lobenstine Clinic and School was the first school in the US dedicated to the education of nurse-midwives. Originally a joint effort of MCA and the Association for the Promotion and Standardization of Midwifery, Inc., (itself largely comprised of MCA staff members) in 1935 it was completely merged into the Maternity Center Association. In 1942, the Berwind Free Maternity Clinic was acquired from the Cornell University Medical College and in 1947 all of Lobenstine’s activities were transferred there. In 1953, Lobenstine moved to the MCA headquarters on East 92nd Street.
The Maternity Center Association ended its home delivery service in 1958 and that same year the nurse-midwifery education program was transferred to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. There, the program was jointly operated by MCA and State University of New York Downstate Medical Center.
Hattie Hemschemeyer headed Lobenstine, 1931-1958. Marion Strachan directed its successor, the program at Kings County Hospital, 1958-1970.
Series 4: Vertical Files
Newspaper clippings, magazine articles, reprints from scientific journals, government reports, pamphlets, and ephemeral material on pregnancy, childbirth, parenthood, and childrearing in the broadest sense collected by the Maternity Center Association, presumably as a resource for its staff, board members, and students.
The material is arranged in two parallel A to Z sub-series, one called “Pamphlet Files” and the other “Library Clippings.” The Pamphlet Files, sub-series 4.1, date largely from the 1930s to the early 1960s; sub-series 4.2, Library Clippings, span from the early 1960s into the late 1980s.
Series 5: Midwifery Consultation Service
Correspondence, reports, questionnaires, and other records of this MCA project, 1970-1975, to improve U.S. maternity care through the expansion and utilization of nurse midwifery.
The Service was established with a grant from the Commonwealth Fund in 1971 and was directed by Marion Strachan, 1971-1974. MCA staff worked with hospitals and educational institutions interested in establishing nurse-midwifery services or educational programs. The Service made 16 site visits in 1971 and 21 in 1972. Between 1970 and 1974, the number of nurse-midwifery services and educational programs in the US grew from 26 to over 100. Of these, over half had received assistance from the Consultation Service in planning and curriculum design (Special Delivery, v. 6, no. 2, Autumn, 1975).
Series 6: General Directors' Records
Records of the MCA General Directors, c.1965-1995, largely of the administrations of Vera Keane and Ruth W. Lubic. This series overlaps with Series 1, Central Files, for the 1965-1985 period, but appear to have been the primary files for the organization by the mid-1970s.
The bulk of the records were created by Ruth Watson Lubic, who took on the position of Director in 1970 and served until 1995, guiding the organization through some of the most tumultuous years of its existence. During her tenure, the MCA continued its national and international educational activities in the area of prenatal care and, in response to a resurgence of interest in home birth and “alternative” birthing methods, opened three Childbearing Centers (CbCs) in New York City. These centers were distinctive in that they provided a “home-like” environment, and medical services were provided by licensed nurse-midwives. Use of services provided by the centers was limited to women with low-risk pregnancies and, in the case of complications, the women were transferred to local hospitals.
In addition to her work at the MCA, Lubic was involved with numerous professional organizations in the areas of childbirth, nursing and nurse-midwifery and served as a consultant to or board member of several institutions. Most notable of these were the Frontier Nursing Service and Franklin County Hospital, both of which provided services to medically underserved communities in rural Kentucky. She was also active as a speaker, and maintained connections with childbirth organizations and professionals in numerous foreign countries, other states, and at colleges and universities. Finally, she was active in New York City and New York State politics as a lobbyist in support of issues relating to childbirth, alternative birth, reproductive rights, and nurse-midwifery.
The records in this series are arranged in sub-series:
Sub-series 6.1: Subject files, 1966-1989 (bulk 1970-1983)
(24 boxes, 8 cubic feet)
Correspondence and other records on various topics related to the MCA, childbearing, midwifery, nurse-midwifery, and the administrative functioning of the MCA Childbearing Center (CbC) on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Extensive records regarding issues related to the development of the first Childbearing Center, interactions with the New York City and New York State Health Departments, various nursing and obstetrical professional organizations, and CbC families. Arranged alphabetically; researchers should be aware that the records on the same subjects can be found in all three subject sub-series.
Sub-series 6.2: Subject files, 1971-1995 (bulk 1981-1995)
(23 boxes, 7.66 cubic feet)
Correspondence and other records on various topics related to the MCA, childbearing, nurse-midwifery, and the administrative functioning of the MCA Childbearing Center (CbC) on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Extensive records regarding interactions with the New York City and New York State Health Departments, various nursing and obstetrical professional organizations, CbC families and correspondence with the Frontier Nursing Service/Franklin County Hospital. Arranged alphabetically; overlaps chronologically and in content with Sub-series 1 and 3.
Sub-series 6.3: Subject files, 1957-1996 (bulk 1985-1996)
(24 boxes, 8 cubic feet)
Correspondence and other records on various topics related to the MCA, childbearing, nurse-midwifery, and the administrative functioning of the MCA Childbearing Center on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Extensive records regarding interactions with the New York City and New York State Health Departments, various nursing and obstetrical professional organizations, and Childbearing Center families. Arranged alphabetically; overlaps chronologically and in content with Sub-series 1 and 2.
Sub-series 6.4: Countries, 1974-1996
(4 boxes, 1.33 cubic feet)
Correspondence and other records on various topics related to the Ruth W. Lubic’s activities as a consultant and speaker outside the United States. Arranged alphabetically by country name; overlaps chronologically with Subject sub-series.
Sub-series 6.5: States, 1970-1992
(2 boxes, .66 cubic feet)
Correspondence and other records on various topics related to childbirth, midwifery, nurse-midwifery and Ruth W. Lubic’s activities as a consultant and speaker within the United States. Arranged alphabetically by state name; overlaps chronologically with Subject sub-series.
Sub-series 6.6: Universities, 1970-1996
(5 boxes, 1.66 cubic feet)
Correspondence and other records on various topics related to midwifery and nurse-midwifery education, and Ruth W. Lubic’s activities as a consultant and speaker at colleges and universities within the United States. Arranged alphabetically by name of school; overlaps chronologically with Subject sub-series.
Sub-series 6.7: Co-Op Birth Center Network, 1977-1982
(2.5 boxes, .80 cubic foot)
Correspondence between Ruth W. Lubic and Kitty Ernst as well as between Kitty Ernst and others regarding the ongoing business of the Co-Op Birth Center Network. The CBCN appears to have been run out of Ernst’s home in Pennsylvania, though Lubic had a supervisory role. Arranged alphabetically; overlaps chronologically with Subject sub-series.
Sub-series 6.8: Ruth W. Lubic Doctoral Papers, 1974-79
(.5 box, .15 cubic feet)
Copy of Lubic’s dissertation and references on the topic of the process of setting up an alternative birthing center, specifically, to setting up the first CbC on the Upper East Side.
Series 7: Childbearing Centers
Correspondence, staff meeting minutes, policy and procedure manuals, activity and fundraising reports, statistics, flyers and ephemera, and other administrative files from the Maternity Center Association’s Childbearing Centers. There were three centers: one at the MCA headquarters on East 92nd St. in Manhattan, which opened in 1975; one located in the Morris Heights neighborhood of the Bronx, which opened in 1988; and one located in East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, which opened in 1994.
Much relating to the planning and operations of the Centers may be found in the General Directors’ records (Series 6). No actual birth records are included in this series; they remain in the possession of Childbirth Connection.
While all three centers enjoyed a certain amount of success, the rising costs of malpractice insurance had a negative impact on their operations. The centers in Manhattan and the Bronx merged with affiliated hospitals and/or closed by 1995, and responsibility for the Brooklyn center was turned over to the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.
Records are arranged in sub-series:
Sub-series 7.1 Childbearing Center of the Upper East Side (CbC I), 1973-1993
(7 boxes, 2.33 cubic feet)
Staff meeting minutes, policy and procedure manuals and other administrative records of the Childbearing Center (CbC) located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, 1975 to 1995.
Sub-series 7.2 CbC I Statistics, 1975-1993
(5 boxes, 1.66)
Weekly and monthly statistics, including births and transfers, from the CbC located on the Upper East Side.
Sub-series 7.3 Miriam Kaparow Study, 1968-1973
(2 boxes, .66 cubic feet)
Interview forms and notes, correspondence and manuscript fragments related to a childbirth study conducted at the MCA by Miriam Kaparow.
Sub-series 7.4 Public Relations 1967-1996
(4 boxes, 1.33 cubic feet)
Memos, legislative and other correspondence, publicity plans and grant materials from both the Morris Heights office and the main CbC office on the Upper East Side.
Sub-series 7.5 Orientation Sheets, 1986
(.5 box, .15 cubic feet)
“First contact” questionnaires completed by prospective patients at the CbC I, or by MCA staff, if the prospective patient was requesting an appointment via the telephone; contains personal medical information.
Sub-series 7.6 Care Survey Forms, 1990
(.5 box, .15 cubic feet)
Surveys distributed to MCA patients who had delivered their child either at the MCA or at a back-up hospital, requesting commentary on their experience; contains personal medical information.
Sub-series 7.7 Expansion Research/Other Birth Centers, 1980-1995
(3 boxes, 1 cubic foot)
Correspondence and other records relating to exploratory research performed by staff at the main MCA CbC regarding expansion into other neighborhoods in the City of New York. Extensive records of a proposed CbC on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which was to be run in conjunction with the North East Neighborhood Association (NENA), now known as the Ryan-NENA Community Health Center. Arranged alphabetically; overlaps chronologically with Subject sub-series.
Sub-series 7.8 Childbearing Center of Morris Heights (CbC II/IV), 1975-1995
(11 boxes, 3.66 cubic feet)
Administrative records, including transfer statistics, of the Childbearing Center (CbC) located in the Morris Heights neighborhood of the Bronx, 1986 to 1991. It includess neighborhood demographics, as well as information about the founding, construction and ongoing funding struggles of the organization. Reseachers should be aware that the CbC of Morris Heights is referred to as both CbC II and CbC IV in the records, due to concurrent expansion activities. When the proposed CbC on the Lower East Side of Manhattan (also referred to as CbC II) did not come to fruition, the Morris Heights facility moved into the no. 2 slot. Arranged alphabetically; overlaps chronologically and in subject matter with the Subject sub-series 6.1-3
Sub-series 7.9 Childbearing Center of East New York (CbC III) 1985-1996
(5 boxes, 1.65 cubic foot)
Memos, staff meeting minutes, construction documents and correspondence from the Childbearing Center (CbC) located in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. Included are neighborhood demographics as well as information about the development of the center and its activities. Arranged alphabetically; overlaps chronologically with Subject sub-series.
Sub-series 7.10 Birth Center Network, 1978-1995
(2 boxes, .66 cubic feet)
Correspondence and promotional literature from institutions in a birth center network in the tri-state area.
Series 8: Scrapbooks
24 volumes & 1 folder housed in 4 document boxes and 6 flat boxes
Volumes containing newspaper and magazine clippings about the activities of the Maternity Center Association and on maternity care in general, largely 1918-1946, though there is one volume from 1968. In addition, there are two volumes of MCA forms, publications, and publicity materials, 1919-1932, 1937-1946.
Of particular interest are the ten volumes relating to the 1931 Mother’s Day publicity campaign, “16,000 Carnations.” Included are newspaper and magazine articles from across the U.S. and letters received by MCA in response to the campaign.
Series 9: Publications
8 Boxes, 1 Flat box, 1 Carton
A comprehensive, though not complete, set of Maternity Center Association publications, 1920s-1980s. They are arranged alphabetically either by title (for books and periodicals) or by topic (for pamphlets and ephemera). Included are runs of such periodicals as Briefs and Special Delivery; annual reports; a wide range of educational materials; and popular publications such as A Baby is Born (first edition, 1957).
Series 10: Oversize, non-print and separated materials
6 Oversize folders, 2 Flat boxes
Photographs; educational poster sets; advertising posters for the Mother’s Day campaigns (1930s) and the MCA Childbearing Centers (1970s-80s); and anatomical drawings by Eve Schuchardt, 1950s. In addition there is material documenting the film produced by MCA in 1959, From Generation to Generation: one volume of sketches for the film, and a large box of storyboards and cells .
Records Series 11: Accession #2016.004
4 boxes (Boxes 259-262)
Miscellaneous records received in 2016 from Childbirth Connection (formerly Maternity Center Association) after its merger with the National Partnership for Women and Families in 2014. Included are general historical materials, photographs, conference transcripts, various reports produced by the organization, and legal documents. Apart from the photos which date from the 1930s to the 2000s, the bulk of the material dates from circa 1990-2010.