Failing babies: poverty, maternity and healthcare in the 20th century


  • Dr Janet Greenlees

    Glasgow Caledonian University

Project summary

This pilot is the first phase of a larger project on the international history of antenatal care. It will examine why poor women in the USA and UK have consistently been less likely to access state and voluntary health services than their wealthier counterparts. 

Bringing together historical and current maternal voices, this study will carry out archival scoping for local, state and voluntary antenatal provision in Philadelphia, Lancashire and Glasgow to provide the historical context for refining the research questions. Then a pilot methodology will be tested to add value. It will involve a collaboration with charities and clinicians to gather oral histories from small groups of low-income women in Glasgow who had their babies in the late 20th or early 21st century to understand their antenatal decision-making and healthcare choices. These narratives will be compared with the historical record.

The outcomes will be shared with historical, medical and political audiences. This pilot will create a sustainable interdisciplinary scholarly network and the foundation for a larger funding bid.