Sunday, February 15, 2009

Maude Callen Part 1: Nurse and Midwife


Mrs. Maude Callen, midwife and nurse, comforts an elderly man who is paralyzed.

This moving photograph appears in the Family of Man, and I have always wondered about its context. The mystery was solved when Donna very kindly sent me a link to the photographs of W. Eugene Smith, taken in 1951, of the work of Mrs. Maude Callen, a nurse and midwife who ministered to a rural community in South Carolina. The photo essay appeared in Life magazine. You can see all of the photos here.


Bringing new dresses to two little girls.

Mrs. Callen was a certified nurse. As can be seen from the photos, she not only brought medical help to many isolated people in poor areas of rural South Carolina; she also brought food, solace, knowledge of how to keep the safe home and hygienic, new dresses for little girls, and help in linking up with help in the broader world. The midwife was always an important person in communities. She was someone who went out of her way for others--at all times of day or night, interrupting whatever else she might be doing, to help a mother bring life into the world. To me, someone who dedicates their life to the help of others in the way that Mrs. Callen did, is akin to the saints.


Fixing the bandage on a toddler who has a head injury. The family lives in the log cabin.
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25:35-40

3 comments:

willow said...

Very inspiring post. Yes, I think St. Maude would be a very fitting title.

Dymphna said...

God bless Nurse Maude. Eric Holder says things in this country haven't changed much from 50 years ago. He ought to sit down with some of Maude's younger patients and try to tell them that.

Christina said...

A very lovely series of posts. Thank you, Linda.