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In Doing History, we offer you a look at some clues that helped build a tale around Martha Ballard's diary. The challenge is to try to make sense of the diary, the documents, and the questions they raise. You can piece together stories from Martha Ballard's life and world.

image of half-male, half-female midwife head

One Rape. Two stories double diamond icon

Consider the work of midwives and doctors Look at how social status and community relationships affect the course and legal outcome of a rape

About Doing History

By itself, the diary is a puzzle. Martha Ballard was neither eloquent nor effusive. She often used one word or none at all when we wish for a thousand.

Laurel Ulrich, the seasoned historian, looked for hints about what those other words could have been. She became a detective. She looked for clues. She found evidence. She tried to determine "what really happened." She drew conclusions.

Both historians and detectives know that questions are often louder than the answers, and that answers are not always clear and satisfying. We invite you to explore the diary entries and companion documents in Doing History to see if you can hear the questions and find some of the answers.

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Martha and a man-midwife | one rape. two stories.