The Diary Of Martha Ballard

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Who runs the world? Girls. Laurel Thatcher wrote that “Martha Ballard was as independent as an eighteenth-century housewife could be” In her essay she analyzes the diary of Martha Ballard; a midwife in the 18th century, who recorded her experiences and work on a daily basis in her diary. Laurel Thatcher proves that Martha Ballard was an exceptional independent woman who was also constrained by the expectations put on midwifes. Thatcher portrayed the quality of women’s lives through the life of Martha Ballard and the women around her. Mrs. Ballard lived independently because she worked on her own. Martha Ballard gained a lot of independence from her occupation as a female practitioner. She excelled at her job and took great passion in her work. Astonishingly, she even “delivered 797 babies in the twenty-seven years of her diary.” This shows the time she had away from her family. She could be gone for hours or days at a time. Leaving her work around the house to her daughters or hired girls. Thatcher goes on to explain a striking truth about Martha Ballard’s work; it wasn’t “its relation to the work of the men, but its independence from it.” Her work was not connected to her husband’s. Martha Ballard handled her own goods from her work, and her husband, his. To connect their work would be dysfunctional and inconvenient. This fact granted Martha Ballard freedom since her work did not rely on her husband, only what she needed.

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