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International Confederation of Midwives

  • International Confederation of Midwives
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The records include minutes and other organisational and business records; corporate records; membership directories; general and Officer's correspondence; publications and other printed material; conference abstracts, programmes and proceedings; regional workshop, seminar and project reports, photographs.

The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) official languages are English, French and Spanish.

Also includes their interactions with numerous other international bodies, including the World Health Organisation, FIGO (International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics), International Planned Parenthood Federation, Council for International Organisations of Medical Services 1960s-90s.



Physical description

96 boxes 1 transfer box Paper


The archive is arranged in sections as follows:

A/ Annual and Triennial Reports 1990-1997;

B/ ICM Council 1954-1993;

C/ Executive Committee 1953-2001;

D/ General Officers and Board of Management 1955-1996;

E/ Corporate and Legal records 1981-1993;

F/ Finance 1957-1981;

G/ Membership 1940-1981;

H/ Correspondence 1978-1996;

J/ Triennial International Congresses 1960-1996;

K/ Projects 1981-1995;

L/ ICM/USAID 1961-1981;

M/ ICM/FIGO Joint Study Group

N/ Workshops, congresses, conferences, meetings 1976-1996;

P/ Relations with international and UK organisations 1908-1997;

Q/ ICM Office records 1986-1996;

R/ History of the ICM 1932-1975;

S/ Newsletter 1981-1994;

T/ Midwifery/Nursing publications and Journals 1981-1997;

U/ Photographs 1889-1984.

Acquisition note

Received by the ICM as a gift in 4 accessions in 1988, 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2018.

Biographical note

The International Federation of Midwives' Unions (also called the International Federation of Midwives' Organisations), precursor to the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), was founded in Europe in 1919, and held its first international conference in 1922 in Bruges, Belgium. National and international meetings of midwives had been held since the 1880s, but largely involved only European countries. Support for an international association was widespread, and between 1926 and 1938 four more international meetings were held in Ghent, Berlin, London and Paris. The London Congress in 1934, with delegates from India, was significant in being the first time a country outside Europe was represented. However, the development of the international organisation was interrupted by war, with most of the records of the Federation between 1922 and 1939 destroyed by fire during the second World War, in Belgium where they were held. The reports of the international Congresses in 1932, 1934, 1936 and 1938 do survive, copies of which can be found in Section R, History of the ICM.

From 1949 to 1953 the secretariat of the International Federation of Midwives was in France; to re-start the international association a meeting of European midwives was held in London in 1949 at the Royal College of Midwives, and in Italy in 1950 (no record of the 1950 meeting survives). At a second meeting in London in 1953, it was agreed to hold the first 'World Congress' of midwives in 1954 as the International Council of Midwives.

The 1954 London Congress was the first truly global meeting of midwives, involving delegates from 50 countries, and marked the start of a series of triennial meetings bringing midwives together from all over the world to share ideas, experience and develop knowledge. At this Congress, the International Confederation of Midwives was re-organised under its present constitution and title. Prior to 1954, the official languages of the organisation had been English, French and German; they were now English, French and Spanish.

The President of the 1954 Congress and first President of the ICM was Miss Nora Bryane-Deane, M.B.E., also president of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM); Miss Marjorie Bayes, M.B.E, Secretary of the Congress and also a leading official of the RCM ,was elected Executive Secretary. Miss Bayes held her post in the ICM until 1975.

The ICM Secretariat was based at the RCM headquarters in Lower Begrave Street, London, from 1954 to 1972, and remained in London until 1999, when the Secretariat relocated to The Hague, The Netherlands.

The ICM's founding aim is to "advance education in midwifery, and to spread knowledge of the art and science of midwifery, with the aim of improving the standard of care provided to mothers, babies and the family throughout countries of the world".

The ICM is governed by the Council, which is made up of the Executive Committee, Officers and Board of Management. Its three year administrative cycle is marked by the Triennial International Congress, at which a new President, Executive Secretary and Council is elected. Membership of the ICM is of national associations of midwives, not individual practitioners, who must be legally recognised in their respective countries (the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the UK's member association). The membership records (1940-1981) reflect the history, working conditions and struggle for resources, training and support experienced by many midwife associations, specifically in less developed and resource poor countries. From a largely European base, the ICM now has a global membership representing midwives in over 100 countries.

As the only international organisation of midwives affiliated to the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the ICM has extensive involvement with national and international programmes with the aim of reducing global maternal mortality rates (MMR) by 50%, one of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), and as part of the Safe Motherhood Initiative (SMI), a WHO/UNICEF collaborative programme. A key partnership in achieving improvements in maternal and child health (MCH) was the ICM and International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Joint Study Group, formed in the early 1960s, which developed a programme of Regional workshops and training for midwives following a global survey in 1966 of midwifery training and practice. The JSG programme recognised the crucial role played by midwives in achieving improvements in MCH , specifically in countries with high maternal mortality and morbidity, where the vast majority of women have no access to antenatal care or trained birth attendant in pregnancy and childbirth.

This collaborative work with FIGO continued with the ICM and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Project, 1972-1980, supported by a USAID grant. The project addressed specific objectives for midwives in improving MCH, e.g. the promotion of family planning, and the training of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), and provided Workshops, training and support for midwives and local service initiatives in countries with high MMR in Africa, India, Latin America and South-East Asia. Much of the material from the ICM/FIGO JSG, and the ICM/USAID Project, as well as other workshops, seminars and conferences, includes country level data on MMR, maternal and child health, the training and status of midwives, and significant social and cultural practices around pregnancy and childbirth (Sections K/, L/ and M/)

The ICM Secretariat was based at the RCM headquarters in Lower Begrave Street, London, from 1954 to 1972, and remained in London until 1999, when the Secretariat relocated to The Hague, The Netherlands.

The ICM continues to pursue its founding aims and organise internationally for the global improvement of maternal and child health, and the achievement of 'Safe Motherhood' for all women.

For more information about the ICM and its current activities, visit their website at

Accruals note

The following is an interim description of material that has been acquired since this collection was catalogued. This description may change when cataloguing takes place in future:

Additional records, including Council and Board of Management minutes, correspondence and papers relating to the International Day of the Midwife, 1980s-1990s


  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
  • German
  • Dutch
  • Hindi

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