Onnie Lee Logan puts her birth “somewhere about 1910″ — birth records were often not filed for Black babies in the South during that time. Onnie’s mother and grandmother, who had been a slave, were also midwives. Even though Onnie delivered nearly all the babies in her community, she nevertheless had to supplement her income by working as a maid. Most of the families she served as midwife could afford to pay her little or nothing.
Alabama encouraged local health departments in 1976 to revoke all permits of non-nurse midwives, but Onnie held such a reputation that she was allowed to continue her practice until 1984. In the same year, Onnie met Katherine Clark, who had come to Mobile to teach English at the University of South Alabama. Katherine helped Onnie to bypass her literacy barriers by recording many hours of Onnie’s stories and editing them into what became Motherwit: An Alabama Midwife’s Story. Onnie passed away in July of 1995. For more information see this New York Times article.
This Midwife of the Week post was written by Valerie Meharg. It originated on FoMM’s Facebook page and is archived here on our website for your continued enjoyment!