Beatrice Borders was a third-generation African American midwife who turned her home into a maternity shelter in the early 1940s. The shelter, located in Camilla, Georgia, was named after her mother, The Williams Nursing Home. Records show that as many as 6,000 Black babies were delivered at the home.
As both Borders’s mother and grandmother delivered babies in the local community, she decided to follow in their footsteps. However, the working conditions during that time was not the best for young mothers. Many women gave birth in small shacks, while others delivered in cotton fields, tobacco barns, and insect-infested residences. There was a lack of transportation, so pregnant mothers were often unable to get to a decent place to have their babies. Despite the unsanitary conditions of these living arrangements, Borders continued to deliver babies.
The Georgia B. Williams Nursing home charged between $25-$55 for delivery, but no one was turned away due to lack of funds. Borders also accepted barter payments, although she was in debt herself to maintain the home. The facility had a birthing room, recovery, office, nursery, laundry room and a side entrance for the mothers. The Georgia B. Williams Nursing Home remained a working facility until its closure in 1971.
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Little Known Black History Fact: Beatrice “Miss Bea” Borders