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Surgeon's sign, England, 1750-1800

J Short, a surgeon, used this sign to advertise his skills as a midwife. The sign would have hung outside his practice. It is symbolic of the changing nature of childbirth in this period. Once the preserve of local, female midwives, it increasingly became the territory of trained, male surgeons who were armed with an array of specialised obstetrical instruments.

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Glossary: sign

An entity that signifies another entity. Often a publicly displayed board giving information

Glossary: midwifery

The medical speciality for women who help during childbirth, as well as the period before and immediately afterwards.