Mary Francis Hill Coley: “Miss Mary” the Healer & Midwife of Albany, Georgia (Video)

1 Posted by - February 2, 2024 - BLACK CHILDREN, BLACK WOMEN, Video

Mary Francis Hill Coley was an African-American lay midwife. Known as “Miss Mary,” she is known for her featured role in a documentary film used to train midwives.

Coley was born Mary Francis Hill in Baker County, Georgia. She was the youngest child and the surviving twin of Martha, who died at childbirth. Mary was raised by her aunts and uncles after losing her parents at a young age, and her value of willingness to help others was shaped by this act. She received almost nothing in the way of formal education.

She later married carpenter Ashley Coley and moved to Albany in 1930. After the move, she became interested in becoming a midwife and became an apprentice of Alabama midwife, Onnie Lee Logan. Coley worked as a midwife for over 30 years and delivered more than 3,000 babies.

Coley was known for her willingness to serve both white and black mothers in the segregated south. Not only did she deliver the babies, but she would also visit the families homes after the birth to help with cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes. She kept the proper birth documents to file with the county for new babies and she worked tirelessly to make sure the mothers and the babies received the best care possible.

In 2005, Coley was featured in the exhibition “Reclaiming Midwives: Pillars of Community Support” at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum, and in a traveling photograph and film exhibit entitled, “Reclaiming Midwives: Stills from All My Babies.” In 2011, she was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement.

By the time of her death in March 1966, Coley was recognized as a healer, an advocate for healthy babies, and a liaison between the healthcare system and her community. She was also hailed as a role model for future generations of women who wanted to make a difference.


video: Youtube

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