This Pulitzer Prize winning history is a fantastic work of research as well as a fascinating look at life on the Maine frontier in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich uses midwife Martha Ballard’s diary as the starting point for her research. Martha’s diary is a bit bare bones, so Ulrich brings in the diaries of people mentioned by Martha, correspondence, legal records, account books, dramas, local history, and anything else she needs to flesh out the midwife’s tale. Weddings, in particular, were a very different thing than they are today. Martha was a women in medicine at a time when doctors in this country were starting to professionalize which meant excluding women practitioners. Even more interesting, Martha was an ancestor of Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross, and of Mary Hobart, one of the the few women doctors in 19th-century Boston.