Martha Ballard

Martha's Marvelous Journal

November 30, 1791  
1799  On this day, Martha Ballard recorded her work as an herbalist and midwife.
For 27 years, Martha kept a journal of her work as the town healer and midwife for Hallowell, Maine. In all, Martha assisted with 816 births.
Today, Martha’s marvelous journal gives us a glimpse into the plants she regularly used and how she applied them medicinally. As for how Martha sourced her plants, she raised them in her garden or foraged them in the wild. As the village apothecary, Martha found her own ingredients and personally made all of her herbal remedies.
And so it was that 229 years ago today, Martha recorded her work to help her sick daughter. She wrote:

"My daughter Hannah is very unwell this evening. I gave her some Chamomile & Camphor.”

Today we know that Chamomile has a calming effect, and Camphor can help treat skin conditions, improve respiratory function, and relieve pain.

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Martha Ballard
Martha Ballard


  1. Jeff Fisher on January 15, 2024 at 1:27 pm

    I’m curious about the source of your photo of Martha? Your image used to be part of her Find A Grave memorial page, but it is no longer there. It very likely can not be Martha. She died in 1812, and the very first photographs were not invented until the 1820’s. Martha is a cousin in my ancestry, so I was just looking around for sources of the very few places this photo now resides. Thank you.

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