George C. Stoney – All My Babies (1952)


One of the first and most important films to treat child birth as a human event and to show it fully. This documentary of a compassionate Black midwife at work in the deep South remained restricted to medical personnel for many years. One cannot recall a more moving, humanist portrayal of the wonder and pain of the event.

Film as a Subversive Art, Amos Vogel

All My Babies (1952) was selected in 2002 by the Librarian of Congress as a “culturally, historically, and artistically significant work” for permanent preservation in the National Film Registry.

This beautiful film is the story of “Miss Mary” Coley, an African-American midwife more than half a century ago in rural Georgia. Conceived as a demonstration film for illiterate “granny” midwives, its production sponsored by the Georgia Department of Public Health, All My Babies quickly transcended its initial purpose. It was used around the world by UNESCO and has become an enduring classic of non-fiction film.

All My Babies was written, produced and directed by George C. Stoney in close collaboration with Mrs. Coley as well as with local public health doctors and nurses, and shows the preparation for and home delivery of healthy babies in both relatively good and bad rural conditions among black families at that time. The film is in addition both a deeply respectful portrait of “Miss Mary,” who is revealed as an inspiring human being, and a record of the actual living conditions of her patients.


Bookmark the permalink.