An Analysis of Laurel Ulrich's 'A Midwife's Tale'

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Laurel Ulrich's Midwife Tale did a good job interpreting and using Martha Ballard's diary to provide a descriptive and impartial account of the 18th century period in women's history, with particular insight into colonial attitudes towards rape. Ulrich's method of piecing together the event of Rebecca Foster's rape has Martha Ballard's diary as a starting point, is chronologically structured, thorough and attempts to cover any historically relevant information by expanding on various adjacent sources. What is more, the historian singles out those excerpts from the diary that serve to support her interpretation of Hallowell community and the rape episode, without denying access to broader context of information, and she openly admits this interpretational purpose: "Someday the dairy may be published. What follows in no sense is a substitute for it; it is an interpretation, a kind of exegesis" (Ulrich, 1991). In order to construct the context surrounding the event, Ulrich turns to other sources than the diary, which serve to shape the setting for Rebecca Foster's plight. In this sense, the historian diligently delves into Minister Foster's previous local conflicts caused by his liberal ecclesiastic views, and examines the Foster family's known interactions with the community (Ulrich, 1991). Due to the fact that Martha Ballard's diary carries a matter-of-fact recording of insightful events as part of her daily midwife experience, her entries may not be entirely accurate or

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