The same week in September 1787 that the Framers “delivered” their Constitution to the American people, midwife Martha Ballard was busy caring for and delivering real babies in Hallowell, Maine. To the right, one can view an image of her diary from that very week. Compared to James Madison’s notes of the Constitution Convention, this journal might seem insignificant, but it better represents the lives and concerns of the four million Americans who resided in the country at that time. Most of them, whether male or female, could probably relate more easily to the terse, businesslike entries in Ballard’s diary than to the fierce but often abstract political debates over sovereignty, republicanism and governance that the Framers were having in Philadelphia. Students in History 117 should read historian Laurel Ulrich’s account of Martha Ballard’s life and ask themselves if Ulrich has explained the case for remembering this particular midwife. What do we learn from this account of medical care in the early republic? How can we explain Martha Ballard’s place in a survey of American history? And finally, what do we need to know about ordinary lives in order to better understand the context of the past? Students should also experiment with the Do History website devoted to Martha Ballard and her story. See especially the transcription engine and the Magic Lens. Also, a good reference website is available from PBS “American Experience,” which did an episode about Ballard a few years ago.