Migrant cotton picker and her baby, Buckeye, AZ, 1940 (National Archives)

Born in the USA

A History of Birth

It’s BackStory’s birthday!

To mark our first year as a weekly program, we’re going back to our roots — and everyone elses! This episode on the history of birth in America was our first weekly broadcast last May.

Every birth is a new beginning, but in this episode of BackStory, we unpack the history of birth itself.

The hosts and their guests explore why American moms avoided the first maternity wards, and why the Puritans thought their newborns weren’t so much innocent bundles of joy, but damned from the outset. And they consider how birth interacts with ideas about citizenship, and of rights in general — sparking major controversies both in the past and the present. Plus, the reasons we don’t find a lot of kids named ‘Prudence’ today!

All this and more as we find out what it means to be “born in the USA.”

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