Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
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Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-4289

The Birth House Project

The Birth House Project

Prior to World War II, women in the North Country traditionally gave birth in community, either at home or in birth houses. Around the 1950s, the common place of birth became more institutionalized in hospitals. Records show that birth houses were found in towns throughout the North Country, but there is very little information in the literature. To what degree are there community birth traditions in the North Country? How do birth houses tie into these traditions and affect present-day childbirth practices? 


Over spring 2020, TAUNY has been working with midwife and community scholar Regina Willette and St. Lawrence University student intern Kylie Clancy on a project exploring these questions, and we are looking for community input.


Share your story!


Do you have any knowledge about birth houses and community birth before 1960? Did you or someone you know give birth in, work at, or have any other connection to a birth house in that pre-1960 time period? If you—or anyone you know of—have knowledge about or direct experience with this, please drop us a line at camilla@tauny.org or 315-386-4289. We are also interested in hearing about more recent birth-related traditions of your own or your family or community.


Project collaborators:


Kylie Clancy is a double major in anthropology and psychology with a minor in religious studies at St. Lawrence University. She is also a trained doula. For her senior thesis, she is teamed up with TAUNY (Traditional Arts of Upstate New York) and midwife Regina Willette to explore the extent of birth house traditions in the North Country, and how these traditions inform present day childbirth practices. Kylie can be reached at kbclan16@stlawu.edu.


Regina Willette is a nationally board certified, New York State licensed midwife, and a retired physician assistant. She has worked with pregnant women and infants since 1977. Her major interest is community birth. Regina can be reached at northcountrymidwife@gmail.com


Camilla Ammirati Director Research and Programs, Camilla Ammirati, joined TAUNY in early 2014 and has since worked on planning and carrying out a wide range of research projects, programs, and exhibits. She is honored to have the opportunity to base these projects on skills, arts, traditions, experiences, and perspectives shared by community members. Camilla can be reached at camilla@tauny.org.



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