Watch: The granny midwives who birthed untold numbers of babies in the rural South

A tradition of black, lay midwifery dating back to slavery

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Mary Coley was among the last generation of granny midwives providing care to pregnant women across the rural South. These women were indispensable at a time when hospitals were often out of reach, and they have a history of service to their community. Thanks to a 1952 informational documentary filmed for the Georgia Department of Public Health, we can observe Coley at work and delight at the new lives she so carefully brings into the world. How did this tradition become completely eradicated?