Martha Ballard

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Martha Moore Ballard (1734/1735 - 1812) was an American midwife, healer, and diarist.


Ballard was born in Oxford, Massachusetts, to Elijah Moore and Dorothy Learned Moore and married Ephraim Ballard in 1754. The couple had nine children between 1756 and 1779 and lost three of them to a diphtheria epidemic in Oxford in the summer of 1769. Ballard's obituary was published on May 31, 1812, in Hallowell/Augusta, Maine.

Ballard was related to Clara Barton, known for her Civil War work and founder of the American Red Cross. Clara was the granddaughter of Ballard's sister, Dorothy Barton.

Her Diary

Between 1785 and 1812, Martha Ballard kept a diary that recorded her arduous work and domestic life in Hallowell on the Kennebec River, District of Maine. The sometimes cryptic log of daily events, written with a quill pen and homemade ink, records numerous babies delivered and illnesses treated as she traveled by horse or canoe around the Massachusetts frontier in what is today the state of Maine. Her writing also illustrates struggles and tragedies within her own family, local crimes and scandals, and provides a woman's perspective on political events then unfolding in the nascent years of the early American republic. Other aspects of society in the late 18th century and early 19th century, including daily activities, medical practices, religious squabbles and sexual mores, add color to Ballard's account.

Ballard used her diary as an accounting book and to keep records of...
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