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Posts by Meggan Woodbury Bilotte

Adventures in the Archives: Tales from the Crypt(ic) Rules of Archive Etiquette

By Meggan Woodbury Bilotte

This summer I, like many of my colleagues, packed up my laptop and #2 pencil and headed out to foreign archives in distant lands—and by that I mean I took a research trip through the beautiful U.S. Southwest. I had two archives to visit, and I was sure to contact both a couple of weeks before my trip to make sure the collections I desired were available and accessible, as well as to familiarize myself with any rules or regulations that may not have been listed on the archives' respective websites.

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The Boy Who Lived: Stillbirth and Life after Death

By Meggan Woodbury Bilotte

How do you grieve for a stillborn child? How do you ensure your child is remembered for having lived, not just for having died? These are the questions that Elizabeth Heineman explores in the unflinching, yet deeply intimate, Ghostbelly: A Memoir. Through Heineman's prose it becomes clear that there is no script for stillbirth, no one way to grieve, to remember, to heal.

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Oh Christmas Tree

By Meggan Woodbury Bilotte

The presents are open. The stockings are empty. The leftovers are gone. A new year is almost upon us and many folks are starting to think about when to take down that tree. Before you put that tree out on the curb and out of your mind for another year, let's take a moment to consider a brief history of the American Christmas tree.

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She Works Hard for the Money

By Meggan Woodbury Bilotte
It is officially summer in Madison. The air is moist, the boats are out, and I, like many other graduate students, have ventured outside of the hallowed halls of the university in search of summer income. For the next ten weeks or so, I will find myself plunked down in front of a computer, working and helping hapless characters who wander my way. (Actually that job description is not much different from my job as a TA except now I have a cubicle!)
It’s been several years since I’ve had a "real" job -- before my son, before research, before grad school. It’s been interesting, though, to enter into this experience as a historian. Few people I work with know or realize that I am a historian and, along with meeting my new co-workers and learning my various duties, I have also come to my job with an historian’s eye towards my workspace and encounters.

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Happiest Place for Gender Norms

By Meggan Woodbury Bilotte
This past December, the world saw another celebrity sex scandal. Suzy Favor Hamilton, the three-time U.S. Olympian, was outed as having a “secret life” as a high-priced escort. As a resident of Madison, there was no way I could have avoided hearing about the fall from grace of one of Wisconsin’s golden girls. Her name and face was plastered all over the local news and she has been publicly dropped from representing local groups such as the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. The notoriety has also cost her a position as a spokesperson for the Walt Disney Company. Since most of the outrage and denigration of Favor Hamilton has focused on the fact that she is a wife and mother, it is probably unsurprising that Disney dropped her.

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Pregnancy and Working Mothers-To-Be (Or, Pregnant Supermodels and Olympians, Oh My!)

Once again, pregnancy is in the news! (What’s that you say? Discussing the pregnant body (particularly those belonging to celebrities is one of America’s favorite national pastimes. Pregnancy is also, of course, a common feature here at Nursing Clio.

By Meggan Woodbury Bilotte
Okay. While pregnancy may “always” be in the “news”, there have recently been some interesting twists on celebrity baby watching. First, we had the Italian fashion model Rafaella Fico who strutted down a Milan runway bearing nothing but a bikini and a bump. Then, there was the discovery that American Olympian gold medalist, Kerri Walsh, was (gasp!) pregnant while competing in the London Games.

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Designing Women: Midwives, Class, and Choice

A couple of weeks ago The New York Times ran an article that asked its readers, “are midwives becoming trendy, like juice cleanses and Tom’s shoes?” Turns out, yes. At least for “the famous and the fashionable.”

Although the article highlights an increased social acceptance of midwifery, the idea of midwives as being the marker of social status seems to diminish its value somewhat. My midwife, I thought, was an advocate, not…a fashion accessory. Still, the Times piece got me thinking. What might it mean that midwives have become the newest trend for the trendy? Does mainstreaming midwifery ultimately lead to increased access to it, or serve to privilege it to an already privileged class of people? In a weird way, I think the Times article put a finger on something I have been wondering for some time now: Is American midwifery gaining legitimacy primarily through its association with affluent white women? And if so…does that matter?

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