Mamie Odessa Hale

The key to Arkansas midwifery

Mamie Odessa Hale was a notable figure in public health nursing and midwifery. Born in 1910 in West Virginia, she attended a teachers college, and later went on to attend one of the few programs open to Black nurses, the Tuskegee School of Nurse Midwifery for Colored Nurses in Alabama in 1941.

Image Source Encyclopedia of Arkansas

Hale served a key role in the Arkansas Department of Health as a midwife consultant where she provided formal training to midwives throughout the state. She supported these midwives with education and supervision during the birthing process, birth registration of deliveries, and midwife permit registration. Hale also developed her own need-based educational programs for midwives throughout the varying counties in Arkansas. Her work and commitment to maternal and public health are evident as Arkansas demonstrated a large decrease in maternal mortality rates in the 1950’s.

Advocacy Note: Supported by all three nurse congresswomen, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 was recently re-introduced in Congress — call your representative to help the pass the only bill written to address the Black maternal health crisis.

Sources

We sourced information for the above biography from Encyclopedia of Arkansas and Dr. Dawley’s article on midwives in the 1940's.

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Ravenne Aponte

Ravenne Aponte

Nurse and PhD student studying the history of nursing. “We must go back to our roots in order to move forward.”