Easter Sudie Campbell

Easter Sudie Campbell was born near the end of the Civil War.  She describes her many experiences as a free midwife in Kentucky.  Here, she describes several experiences she has had supporting women during pregnancy and while giving birth.
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When I go on a baby case, I just let nature have its way. I always test the baby, the first thing I do is blow my breath in the baby’s mouth. I spank it just a little so it will cry and I give it warm catnip tea so if it is going to have the hives they will break out on it. I always have my own catnip and sheep balls, for some cases need one kind of tea and some another. I give sink field tea for the colic. It is just good for a young baby’s stomach. I have been granning for nigh under forty years and I only lost two babies that were born alive. One of these was the white man’s fault, this baby was born with the jaundice and I told this white man to go to the store and get me some calomel and he says, whoever heard of giving a baby such truck, and so that baby died.

Of course you can tell whether the baby is going to be a boy or girl before he is born. If the mother carries that child more on the left and high up, that baby will be a boy; and if she carries it more to the middle, that will be a girl. Mothers ought to be more careful while carrying their children not to get scared of anything, for they will sure mark their babies with terrible ugly things. I know once a young woman was expecting and she went blackberry hunting and a bull cow with long horns got after her and she was so scared that she threw her hands over her head.  And when that baby boy was born he had two nubs on his head just like horns beginning to grow. So I had her call her doctor and they cut them off. One white woman I waited on liked hot chocolate and she always wanted more, she never had enough of that stuff, and one day she spills some on her leg and it just splotched and burned her and when that gal was born, she had a big brown spot on her leg just like her mammy’s scar from the burn. Now you see, I know you can mark the babies.

There was a colored woman once I waited on that had to help the white folks kill hogs and she never did like hog liver but the white folks told her to take one home and fix it for her supper. Well, she picked that thing up and started off with it and it made her feel creepy all over.  And that night her baby was born, a gal child, and the print of a big hog-liver was standing out all over one side of her face.  That side of her face is all blue and purplish and just the shape of a liver. And it’s still there.

I grannied over three hundred children and I know what I’m talking about.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Easter Sudie CampbellUnknown (72)Mamie HanberryWill Grooms
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Christian County, KYKentuckyKentucky
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Gender/Gender roles, Family, EqualityFirst Person, Dialect, Enslaver Father