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Flora Hommel Papers

 Collection
Identifier: UP002090
Hommel's papers reflect her career working with the Lamaze method. Most of the collection is comprised of CWPEA documents and correspondence from its establishment through the 1990s-- records of events, classes and projects, including the birthing center and the making of an American version of the well-respected French childbirth film “Naissance.” Of particular interest may be the many birth reports— extensive narrations of the birth experiences of CWPEA students. There is substantial overlap between correspondence in Hommel’s personal papers and the CWPEA correspondence. A sampling of newsletters and documents from national childbirth and parenting organizations is included in the papers. Several boxes of ICEA materials and a small amount of ASPO materials are located in Series III.

Important Subjects: American Society for Psycho-Prophylaxis in Obstetrics (ASPO) now Lamaze International Childbirth education Childbirth—History—20th century Childbirth—Social aspects—United States Childbirth—Study and teaching—United States Childbirth—United States--History Childbirth without pain Childbirth Without Pain Education Association (CWPEA) International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) Lamaze method of childbirth Medical education Natural childbirth—methods Natural childbirth—study and teaching Natural childbirth—United States Nursing education Obstetrics—Psychosomatic aspects Obstetrics—Social aspects—United States Psycho-prophylaxis in childbirth Women and health Women health reformers United States

Important Correspondents: Dr. Leon Chertok Marjorie Karmel Dr. Niles Newton Dr. Pierre Vellay Cecilia Worth

Series Description: Series I: Personal, 1940s-2000s Series II: CWPEA, 1950s-1990s Series III: Professional Activities, 1950s-2000s Series IV: Audio-Visual, 1960s-1980

Dates

  • 1950 - 2005
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1989

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.

Extent

25 Linear Feet ((24 SB, 1 MB, 1 OS), 13 films)

Abstract

Flora Suhd Hommel was one of the pioneers who brought the Lamaze psychoprophylactic method of painless childbirth to the United States, establishing an important teaching organization in Detroit, the Childbirth Without Pain Education Association (CWPEA). She championed the rights of women to control childbirth, creating a grass-roots movement contemporaneous with the women’s movement of the 1960s-1970s. Hommel and the CWPEA were important catalysts in establishing similar childbirth and parenting organizations and teacher-monitrice accreditation programs across the United States.

Hommel's papers reflect her career working with the Lamaze method. Most of the collection is comprised of CWPEA documents and correspondence from its establishment through the 1990s-- records of events, classes and projects, including the birthing center and the making of an American version of the well-respected French childbirth film “Naissance.” Of particular interest may be the many birth reports— extensive narrations of the birth experiences of CWPEA students. There is substantial overlap between correspondence in Hommel’s personal papers and the CWPEA correspondence. A sampling of newsletters and documents from national childbirth and parenting organizations is included in the papers. Several boxes of ICEA materials and a small amount of ASPO materials are located in Series III.

History

Flora Suhd Hommel was one of the pioneers who brought the Lamaze psychoprophylactic method of painless childbirth to the United States, establishing an important teaching organization in Detroit, the Childbirth Without Pain Education Association (CWPEA). She championed the rights of women to control childbirth, creating a grass-roots movement contemporaneous with the women’s movement of the 1960s-1970s. Flora Suhd was born in Detroit on March 16, 1928. Her career began with training from Dr. Pierre Vellay and Dr. Fernand Lamaze, while living in France from 1946-1953. She returned to Detroit and received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Wayne State University in 1958. The CWPEA was established that same year and continued into the 1990s, training thousands of expectant parents (over 17,000 according to one 1989 report) in the methods of painless childbirth and hundreds of teachers and birth coaches (called monitrices). It was incorporated as a non-profit educational and scientific institution in 1964. As the CWPEA’s executive director, Hommel supervised a large core of volunteers (most of them former childbirth students), oversaw an extensive schedule of classes and film showings, trained teachers and monitrices, worked with the medical establishment to bring the new childbirth methods into hospitals, and attempted to establish the CWPEA’s own birthing center in the 1980s (it was never realized).

Hommel and the CWPEA were important catalysts in establishing similar childbirth and parenting organizations and teacher-monitrice accreditation programs across the United States. She served as a consultant and lectured extensively to childbirth, parenting and medical worshops and conferences across the U.S, and was a prominent member of the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) and the American Society for Psycho-Prophylaxis in Obstetrics (ASPO, now Lamaze International). From the 1980s on, Hommel was involved with several health care and political organizations, including the Detroit Health Advisory Commission and the Grey Panthers, fighting the “medicalization” of childbirth, the lack of health care for women, the rampant rise in cesarian births, and many other social and political issues facing women, seniors and families. Some of the awards Hommel received during her career include induction into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, Wayne State University’s “Detroit Distinguished Women” award, a key to the City of Detroit awarded by Mayor Coleman Young in 1973 and Honorary Life Membership in the International Society of Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics.

Arrangement

Arranged in 4 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Boxes 2-13), Series 3 (Boxes 13-22), and Series 4 (Boxes 23-25, 13 reels). Folders in each series are simply listed by their location within each box. They are not arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout several boxes within each series.

Film reels in Series IV are numbered by item (1-13).

Acquisition

The papers of Flora Hommel were donated to the Walter P. Reuther Library in 2009.

Related Materials

*Boston Association for Childbirth Education Records, Schlesinger Library, Harvard University *Informed Homebirth/Informed Birth and Parenting Collection, Health Collection, and Midwifery Collection; Sophia Smith Collection, Women’s History Archives, Smith College *Maternity Center Association Records; Archival Collections at Health Sciences Library, Columbia University

Transfers

Boxes 23-25 and 13 films were transferred to the Reuther A-V Department.

Processing History

Finding aid written by Aimee Ergas on July 27, 2012.
Title
Guide to the Flora Hommel Papers
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Aimee Ergas.
Date
2012-07-27
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA