Today Google is honoring Justine Siegemund (1636-1705) with a Doodle. Google states:
Today’s Doodle celebrates Justine Siegemund, a midwife who dared to challenge patriarchal attitudes in the 17th century. She was the first person in Germany to write a book on obstetrics from a woman’s perspective. On this day in 1690, the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) certified her book, The Court Midwife, as an official medical textbook. During a time when few women had access to formal education, Siegemund became the first woman to publish a seminal medical text in German.
Google Doodles tend not to discuss the faith lives of the scientists they feature. That is the case here. However, a look at Siegemund’s book is educational in this regard. An introduction to a modern translation of The Court Midwife notes that —
[Siegemund] repeatedly stresses that her professional success and indeed the outcome of any birth depends on God’s help. The book, furthermore, opens with a Bible verse pertaining to pious midwives [“Therefore God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and grew very numerous. And because the midwives feared God, God built up families for them.” — Exodus 1:20-21] and ends with an expression of humility before God: “Honor is God’s alone.” In the various dedications Siegemund asks for God’s blessing for her patrons or expresses her intention to pray on their behalf.
The title page of the book indicates that Siegemund wrote it “to Honor God”. Google states that Siegemund with her book —
greatly improved maternal and infant health in Germany. Up until then, German midwives largely passed down their knowledge through oral traditions. There wasn’t a standardized way to document safe birth practices. The Court Midwife was the first to offer a comprehensive guide on childbirth in Germany.
What Siegemund says about her documenting her knowledge is,
Because my desire for our Eternal God increases with each passing day and my end is in sight, I did not want to hid my light under a bushel, that is, my God-given art and my experience of thirty years in this profession, but to honor God and to profit the common good. I had the picture of the postures of birth engraved and printed out of love of my neighbor at my own expense, so I could repay the world with love and after my death could leave to the world the enlightenment in this art and experience that God gave me in this world. These are my reasons for publication.
Indeed, The Court Midwife and Justine Siegemund tell quite the the faith-and-science story.
Click here for other Google Doodle scientists.