Saturday, April 08, 2006

Another Patricia Miller/NOW near-match

Going through The Worst of TImes has raised another question.

NOW's site tells this story of Vivian Campbell:
Vivian Campbell
December 12, 1925 - May 6, 1950
Vivian Campbell was the mother of two children ages five and three. She was newly separated from her husband when she realized she was pregnant. Sending her children to stay with her parents, she sought and obtained an illegal abortion. She sent for her husband, but by the time he arrived at the hospital it was too late. She died in agony of peritonitis.

I have another possible match in Miller's book. The chapter "Gloria" has a woman telling of her mother's death. The following facts match:
  • The woman's name was Vivian
  • She had two children, the older of which was almost six years old
  • She was separated from her husband
  • Vivian died in May of 1950
  • The children were taken to live with their maternal grandparents prior to their mother's fatal hospitalization
  • Vivian was hospitalized
  • While hospitalized, she died of peritonitis
  • Neither story has any details of how the abortion was performed, or by whom

There are some differences:
  • NOW has Vivian dying at age 24; Gloria said her mother was 27
  • NOW said that the estranged husband arrived at the hospital "too late," and gave the impression that Vivian was already dead; Gloria said that her father brought Vivian to the hospital, but it was too late to save her. (This may just be muddling rather than skewed facts.)

Gloria indicated that she learned the truth of how her mother died when she needed a copy of the death certificate years later. The death certificate said "spontaneous abortion". Gloria clearly doesn't understand that this means a miscarriage; she took this as proof that her mother had obtained some sort of illegal abortion. So Gloria's mother may have miscarried, or the death certificate could have been sanitized.

This is another case I will have to investigate. Gloria said her family lived in Dusquesne, Pennsylvania at the time of her mother's death. I might have a difficult time tracking down an obituary to see if the Vivian in Gloria's story is Vivian Campbell.

Does anybody know?

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