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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Marie Bovin

b. 1773, Montreuil, France; d. 1841, France

The correct spelling of this name is MARIE BOIVIN.

Marie Gillain Boivin trained as a midwife under Marie la Chapelle and earned a diploma in midwifery in 1800. She worked as la Chapelle’s assistant for eleven years at the Hospice de la Maternité in Bordeaux and later directed several other hospitals. Boivin invented the pelvimeter and vaginal speculum, tools used to dilate the vagina and examine the cervix. A skilled diagnostician, she discovered causes for miscarriages and was the first to listen to the fetal heartbeat with a stethoscope. Her book Mémorial de l’art des accouchements (The Art of Obstretrics, 1812) was an important text for medical students and midwives, as was her 1833 book on diseases of the uterus, Traité pratique des maladies de l’utérus et de ses annexes, which included 41 color plates and 116 color figures.