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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 772

Papers of Fran Ventre, 1970-2000


Exams; training modules; reports; course guidelines and papers; labor reports; correspondence; meeting minutes; testimony; protocol manuals; articles; etc., of Fran Ventre, nurse-midwife.


  • 1970-2000

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. The bulk of the collection is open for research. Folders #1.1, 10.2, 11.12, 12.3, 12.4 are closed as noted below. These files, where access would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy for third party individuals, are closed for a period of 90 years from the date of birth of the patient.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Fran Ventre is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


5.84 linear feet ((14 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 9 photograph folders)

The collection consists of exams; training modules; reports; course guidelines and papers; labor reports; correspondence; meeting minutes; testimony; protocol manuals; articles; etc., documenting the education and professional life of Fran Ventre. They document the educational and professional experiences of a lay midwife and certified nurse-midwife during the early years of the home birth movement, as well as the establishment of out-of-hospital birthing centers. Most material arrived in folders with identifying labels. Other material was loose in boxes. The material was refoldered and original folder titles were retained. Most loose material was interfiled with similar material. One folder title was created by the processor and appears in square brackets. No personal papers are included in the collection.

Series I. EDUCATION AND TEACHING,1970-ca.1990 (#1.1-4.2), includes exams; training modules; reports; course guidelines and papers; labor reports; instructions; etc., related to Ventre's training as a midwife. Most material relates to her certification received from Georgetown University, but there is also material relating to her training in Lamaze techniques through the American Society for Psycho-Prophylaxis; her nursing education at Montgomery College, her education at Boston University, and several workshops and classes regarding midwifery. Labor reports were written by Ventre to document individual patients' labor and birth experiences following her attendance at the birth as part of her midwife training. These reports are closed to research until January 1, 2047. A small amount of material documents Ventre's teaching of Lamaze techniques to expectant parents and her supervision of students at the North Shore Birth Center (Beverly Hospital) as part of their practicum for their training as midwives. Original folder titles were retained. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II. PROFESSIONAL, 1970-2000 (#4.3-14.5), includes correspondence and memos; reports; minutes; protocol manuals; job descriptions; etc. The bulk of the series documents the founding of the North Shore Birth Center (Beverly Hospital) in 1979-1980 and Ventre's work there for the subsequent four years. Much of the correspondence in the series documents her activities as a midwife, with a number of professional organizations, and her work at Holy Family Hospital's Birthing Center, and includes thank you letters from parents for whom she assisted at the birth of their children. Other material documents her legal battle with the state of Maryland to obtain licensure to perform services as a lay midwife in which she was ultimately successful; her efforts to ensure changes in legislation in the state of Massachusetts to benefit midwives; her involvement in the formation of Home Oriented Maternity Experience and as editor of the organization's newsletter; and her activity on the Massachusetts Department of Health Commissioner's Task Force on Birthing Centers which developed standards and recommended licensure requirements for birthing centers in Massachusetts. Many subject files document policies and protocols of birthing centers around the country and were likely collected to inform her work on the Task Force on Birthing Centers. A small amount of material (e.g., patient logs, delivery logs, etc.) documents her work with patients and is closed to research until January 1, 2053 and January 1, 2067. Original folder titles were retained. Loose material was interfiled with similar material. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series III. PHOTOGRAPHS AND OVERSIZED, 1977-1994 (#PD.1-PD.9, FD.1, F+D.1, OD.1), includes photographs found with other documents. Most photographs are of Ventre with patients and/or children she delivered; with other nurse-midwives; or for publication. A small number of photographs are of expectant mothers or couples, some of whom gave permission for publication. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online. Oversized material in this series was originally located in and described in previous series.


Frances Katz Ventre was born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. After attending public schools in Brooklyn, she attended the University of Wisconsin, earning a BS in Russian in 1962. She married Robert M. Ventre in 1962 and the couple had three children: F.J., Michael, and Sara. Following graduation from the University of Wisconsin she taught English as a second language at the Institute of Modern Languages in Washington, DC (1963-1965); was a teacher at the Home of the Good Shepherd, a school for young girls with social/family problems (1964); and taught French in Minnie Howard Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia (1965).

While pregnant with her first child, Ventre and her husband became interested in the natural birth process and began taking Lamaze classes. In 1972 she became a childbirth education instructor, having received certification from the American Society for Psycho-Prophylaxis (now Lamaze International). In 1973 she began nursing classes at Montgomery College, receiving her AA in nursing in 1977, and in 1974 co-founded H.O.M.E. (Home Oriented Maternity Experience) and served as an instructor and editor of its newsletter, News from H.O.M.E., until about 1980. In 1975 she became certified as a lay-midwife in the state of Maryland, challenging that state's "granny midwife" law. She later attended Georgetown University (1977-1978) receiving a certification as a nurse-midwife. In 1980 Ventre received an MA in Public Health from Boston University.

Beginning in 1978 Ventre worked as a nurse-midwife with Dr. Leo Sorger in Malden, Massachusetts. In 1979 she assisted in the establishment of the North Shore Birth Center at Beverly Hospital in Beverly, Massachusetts, working there as a nurse-midwife and later a senior nurse-midwife until 1984. Following this she took a position as a midwife at Holy Family Hospital's Birthing Center in Methuen, Massachusetts. Ventre was also very involved in the home birth movement in Massachusetts, giving testimony regarding a number of bills related to midwifery before the Massachusetts Legislature (1977-1984) and serving on the Massachusetts Health Department Commissioner's Taskforce on Birthing Centers (1983-1984) and the Massachusetts Health Systems Project Review Committee (1983-1984), as well as being a founding member of the North America Midwives Alliance and active in the American College of Nurse-Midwives.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. Education and teaching, 1970-ca.1990 (#1.1-4.2)
  2. Series II. Professional, 1970-2000 (#4.3-14.5)
  3. Series III. Photographs and oversized, 1977-1994 (PD.1-PD.9, FD.1, F+D.1, OD.1)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2003-M126

The papers of Fran Ventre were given to the Schlesinger Library by Fran Ventre in 2003.


Donors: Fran Ventre

Accession number:2003-M126

Processed by: Mark Vassar

The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library printed materials division pending approval of curator:

  1. American College of Nurse-Midwives Directory, 1984-1985
  2. Birth Issues, 1984
  3. cbcn News, 1981-1983
  4. Compulsory Hospitalization: Freedom of Choice in Childbirth? (Vol. 1), 1979
  5. The Federal Monitor, 1978
  6. Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 1976, 1978
  7. Maine Access to Alternatives in Childbirth Care [Newsletter], 1978-1980
  8. MAPSAC Newsletter, 1978
  9. Mass. Midwives Alliance News, 1985
  10. Massachusetts Midwives Alliance Newsletter, 1984
  11. Midwife to Midwife, 1977
  12. Midwifery Today, 1987?
  13. nacc News, 1984-1985, 1990
  14. NAPSAC News, 1976-1981
  15. N.M.A. Newsletter, 1977
  16. Nurse-Midwifery in the United States: 1982 (1984)
  17. NW Bulletin, 1990
  18. The Practicing Midwife, n.d.
  19. Special Delivery, 1984

Processing Information

Processed: October 2014

By: Mark Vassar with the assistance of Caitlin Jones.

Ventre, Fran. Papers of Fran Ventre, 1970-2000: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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