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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0316. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Outlining various childbirth practices

Allen briefly describes how her mother gave birth to her at home with the help of an African American midwife. In contrast, Allen's siblings were birthed by white, male doctors. In outlining these kinds of variations in childbirth during the era, Allen explains how she and her siblings used "old wives' tales" related to their births to account for differences between them.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ethelene McCabe Allen, May 21, 2006. Interview C-0316. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

And your full birth name? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Beulah Ethelene McCabe. I didn't have a birth certificate. There was a midwife that delivered me. Doctors delivered the rest of them. But she had had one and I think it might have been ten dollars to deliver - for the doctor to come out and deliver and it was five dollars for a midwife, so she saved money by having the midwife come and deliver me. I grew up with dark eyes. The others had blue eyes and I had the dark – the brown eyes, like Daddy, and a little darker skin. I tanned easily; it was fair skin, but yet it was – Maverene and the others had the light enough skin that they freckled slightly and I never had a freckle on my face. I just had really smooth skin and no blemishes, except that little tiny mole above the lip. They said the reason I was dark is because the black woman delivered me.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
The midwife? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: The midwife. She was a black lady in the community that did that. She was known as a midwife. She didn't make out a birth certificate for me. Mama didn't realize it was that important at that time. The rest of them got birth certificates but I didn't.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
So all the rest were delivered by doctors? At home? Not in a hospital? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: By doctors at home. Not in a hospital. The doctors came out to the home.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
And the doctors were all males – white males? ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Yes.
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
Who would make that comment about you being darker because of - ETHELENE McCABE ALLEN: Oh my brother Cecil probably started it. He loved to pick and aggravate and do anything he could to -
BARBARA C. ALLEN:
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