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Midwives' Alliance of North America records

Identifier: SSC-MS-00375

Scope and Contents

The MANA Records consist of correspondence, minutes, printed material, photographs, conference materials, journals and publications, traning manuals and administrative records, audio- and videotapes, computer disks, and memorabilia.

The records reflect the historical experience and organization of midwives primarily in the United States. They also document the stresses and strains of organizational development as the organization grappled with issues of diversity, especially in reference to issues of standards and practices, education, the registration of midwives, and the division between lay and nurse midwives. Of particular interest are the Board of Directors meeting minutes and correspondence, and records of IWG, NARM, and the sometimes uneasy relationship between MANA and the American Council of Nurse Midwives.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1927 - 2001
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1981 - 1996


Conditions Governing Access

All records are closed except for boxes 1, 2, and 3 (Publications and publicity). Access to closed records is limited to current MANA board members and researchers authorized in writing by the board.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that they own copyright, the Midwives' Alliance of North America has retained copyright in material donated to Smith College. Copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, or which may regard materials in the collection not created by the Midwives' Alliance of North America, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

The Midwives' Alliance of North America (MANA) was founded in April 1982, to build cooperation among midwives and to promote midwifery as a means of improving health care for women and their families. When MANA was founded there were many organizations that midwives had been instrumental in organizing and that provided a means of communication and support. However none had a membership base broad enough, an internal support system, or the political credibility to promote midwifery as an accepted part of the maternal-child health care system in North America. In October 1981, Sister Angela Murdaugh, of the American College of Midwives, invited seven midwives from around the country to Washington D.C. to discuss issues confronting all midwives, with special emphasis on the communication concerns between nurse-midwives and other American midwives. A decision was made to form a "Guild" that would include all midwives with four purposes in mind: to expand communication among midwives; to set educational and training guidelines; to set guidelines for basic competency and safety for practicing midwives; and to form an identifiable professional organization for all midwives in the U.S. Throughout its history MANA has advocated for the belief that birthing mothers should be able to choose their places and caregivers at birth and that midwifery should be decriminalized.

In April 1982, nearly 100 women from around the country met in Lexington, Kentucky. At this meeting the name Midwives Alliance of North America was chosen and it was decided that Canadian midwives would be included in the organization. Officers were chosen and a newsletter Practicing Midwife (changed to MANA News in 1983) was established. In October 1982 a working meeting of 23 women worked out a structure for MANA by forming committees and starting projects.

Much of MANA's organizational energy has been directed toward making national midwifery certification acceptable and workable within the medical community and thereby accessible to women. By 1986, it had become clear that midwives needed to create an internationally accepted direct-entry midwifery credential if they were to preserve the unique forms of practice which midwives had developed over the last thirty years and at the same time work within the larger health-care community. To this end MANA launched the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). NARM became a separately incorporated entity in 1992 and since has developed a competency-based certification process.

Out of the formal support network generated by MANA, the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) was established in 1991. In conjunction with NARM, it accredits a wide variety of direct-entry midwifery educational programs, including apprenticeships, thus formally validating and preserving ancient as well as modern routes to practice.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s MANA participated in the Carnegie Foundation funded Interorganizational Work Group on Midwifery Education (IWG), comprised of representatives from MANA, the American Council of Nurse Midwives, and consumer advocates. The outcome of IWG was educational competency standards for midwives which the board of NARM agreed to take on in 1993.


0.00409 Gigabytes

52.751 linear feet (78 containers)

Language of Materials



Records consist of administrative records, printed material, photographs, audio- and videotapes, computer disks, and memorabilia. Documents issues of standards and practices, education, the registration of midwives, and the division between lay and nurse midwives.


This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request the creation of and access to digital copies.

This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request access to this digital content.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The records of the Midwives' Alliance of North America were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection in 1996 through the efforts of board member Penfield Chester. In addition, in July 1998 a small amount of material was transferred from the records of Informed Homebirth/Informed Birth and Parenting whose founder, Rahima Baldwin Dancy, was treasurer of MANA and in September 1999 7 videotapes of Region 10's annual conference were donated by Alison Bastien.

Additional materials have been donated by B. J. Mackinnon (1999), Carol Leonard (1999), MANA (2000), Penfield Chester (2003 and 2010), Diane Holzer (2003, 2014, and 2021), Ashley Kraft (2003), Ina May Gaskin (2004), Joan Green (2005), Lisa Jones (2005), Maria Iorillo (2008-2009), Ron Botting (2013), and Anne Frye (2016).

Additions to the Collection

Periodic additions to collection are expected.

Related Materials

Related material in the Sophia Smith Collection can be found in the Midwifery Collection, and in three unprocessed collections: the papers of midwives Carol Leonard and Penfield Chester and the records of Informed Homebirth/Informed Birth and Parenting. Also related is a run of NAPSAC (National Association of Parents and Professionals for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth) News located in the Sophia Smith Collection's Periodical Collection.

Separated Material

Two feet of material was removed and is now the personal papers of midwife Carol Leonard. One and a half feet of material (mostly printed) was removed to form the Midwifery Collection.

Processing Information

Preliminary processing and finding aid done by Susan Boone, 1999.

The contents of computer media in this collection has been copied to networked storage for preservation and access; the original directory and file structure was retained and file lists were created.

Processing Information

Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. A full crosswalk of old to new numbers is available.

Midwives' Alliance of North America records
Finding Aid
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Susan Boone
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss102 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:10-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2019-11: Legacy Word finding aid to processed portion imported
  • 2020-06-29: Description added for born-digital content.
  • 2021-06: Legacy inventories to 15 accessions added
  • 2021-12-02: Added Accession 2021-S-0007

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063