Call the Midwife
So my 2nd great grandmother (stor bestemor — I have to keep practicing my norsk) was a midwife. Marit Stavem Paulsdatter was born 25 April 1843 in Lesja Norway (middle upper central-ish) and immigrated with her husband Amund Olson to Minneapolis in 1869. I have family lore that she went to Oslo to study as a midwife, but cannot find any verification. (Yet!!) She was listed as “Mrs A Olson, midwife” in the 1871 Minneapolis city directory and was listed in the 1880 census as being a ‘housekeeper — midwife’ (husband Amund was listed as a stonemason). The 1882 Minneapolis city directory gives her a separate listing as “Mrs Mary Olson, midwife” — this is a big deal as women did not very often get a recognition for their work, and probably meant she was either advertising or well known in her community. Also, her husband being a stonemason could have conferred her some status.
By this time, she had 2 children and another on the way (my oldemor) yet she still kept practicing. The 1885, 1890, 1894 (now as Mrs. Marit Olson) ,1897, 1901, 1903, 1907, and 1910 Minneapolis city directories listed her at the same address.
In 1910, she was listed in 2 censuses — not impossible as they were taken over the course of several months. She was in her usual location in Minneapolis, (though interestingly listed as divorced and her husband Amund was not living with her) then she was listed as living with her daughter’s family in Pembina, MN. It makes sense as her daughter was expecting her 5th baby and probably needed expert midwifery mothering!
Marit was living in Minneapolis with her youngest single daughter Ella in 1920 while her (ex?) husband Amund was living in Pembina MN with their other daughter and her family. She passed away at the home of her daughter in 1926 at the age of 83.
So Marit seems like an interesting woman — educated in Norway as a midwife, immigrating to America, raising her own children, divorcing or separating from her husband, and continuing her profession until into her 70th years. Proud to be her barnebarn.