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Posts by Heather Munro Prescott

Big Berkshire Conference 2014 Report

By Heather Munro Prescott

Last month, I attended the 16th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women (aka the Big Berks) at the University of Toronto. For those unfamiliar with this event, it is a triennial research conference held by the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians (aka the Little Berks). According to the Little Berks website, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians "formed in 1930 in response to women academics’ sense of professional isolation." Women historians were allowed to join the American Historical Association (the professional organization for historians in the U.S.), but "were never invited to the 'smokers,' the parties, the dinners and the informal gatherings where the leading men of the profession introduced their graduate students to their colleagues and generally shepherded them into history jobs in colleges and universities."

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Announcing the First Ever Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at the Berkshire Conference

By Heather Munro Prescott

Last year I reported on the gender gap in Wikipedia and efforts by women's historians and others to remedy it. To recap: Several years ago, the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia, collaborated on a study of Wikipedia’s contributor base and found that less than 15 percent of its hundreds of thousands of contributors are women. These sobering statistics gained widespread publicity in a January 2011 New York Times article by Noam Cohen and an ensuing flurry of media coverage in various venues, including Mother Jones, the Atlantic, and NPR. Blogger Tenured Radical (aka Claire Potter) reported on gender bias in Wikipedia in an article titled “Prikipedia? Or, Looking for the Women on Wikipedia.”

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Thoughts on the National Women’s History Museum, Women’s History Scholars, and Public History

By Heather Munro Prescott

Earlier this month on my blog, I commented on an article by historian Sonya Michel in the New Republic entitled “The National Women’s History Museum Apparently Doesn’t Much Care for Women’s Historians.” In the article, Michel writes that in the midst of Women's History Month, Joan Wages, the president and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum, told Michel and her fellow historians on the museum’s Scholarly Advisory Council"that our services were no longer needed. For three years, we had been trying to help Wages’ nonprofit organization develop an overall vision for the institution it hopes to build on the National Mall. Oddly, this move came just as the NWHM is about to win the preliminary congressional approval for the project it has been seeking for sixteen years.

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Female Role Models Whom I Will Miss

By Heather Munro Prescott

Every year the New York Times magazine publishes a special issue "The Lives They Lived" honoring the lives of prominent persons who died in the past year. This year's list included a number of notable women, including Abigail van Buren (aka Dear Abby), Esther Williams, and Maria Tallchief. This inspired me to create my own list of female role models who died in 2013 and whose life and work influenced my own.

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Conference Report on History of Science Society 2013 Annual Meeting

By Heather Munro Prescott

Last weekend I attended the 2013 annual meeting of the History of Science Society in Boston, Massachusetts. I tweeted periodic comments throughout the conference. Here are some further thoughts:

On Thursday afternoon, I started off with the Special Public Engagement Session: Science in the Streets, cosponsored by Boston University Center for the Philosophy and History of Science. This session consisted of two interdisciplinary panels aimed at exploring "innovative ways of connecting ordinary citizens with science, and how the history of science can inform and enrich these efforts." Presenters included Brian Malow (the science comedian) and Ari Daniel Shapiro of the science podcast The Story Collider. Conevery Valencius Bolton from the University of Massachusetts, Boston did a fine job as an emcee for the session.

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The Links between Optional Parenthood and Reproductive Rights

By Heather Munro Presscott

Last summer, Time Magazine published a cover story declaring "Childfree Adults Are Not 'Selfish,'" in which Carolina A. Miranda recounts her decision to not have children: "This should not seem that radical. But 52 years after the advent of the birth control pill, and more than a century after the word 'feminism' was first coined, a woman’s decision not to have children remains fraught. It is also very public, relentlessly scrutinized by psychologists, politicians, statisticians and the media, who gather to discuss what it may mean — for women, for the funding of Social Security, for Western civilization as we know it. This past winter, a pair of Newsweek writers — of the dude persuasion — went on a gloom-and-tirade (sic) about declining birth rates and the self-involved young adults that are causing them."

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Wendy Davis Filibuster Shows You Don’t Mess with Texas Feminists

By Heather Munro Prescott

Periodically, we Yankees need a reminder that the term "southern feminist" is not an oxymoron. This past summer, we received an especially vivid one: Senator Wendy Davis's epic filibuster of SB-5, which sought to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, to regulate first-trimester abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers, and to restrict access to medication abortions.

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The Camp Gyno is Period Positive – Are You?

By Heather Munro Prescott

I can't let the summer end without commenting on the latest video from Hello Flo, a "reminder service" for feminine hygiene products that "was born to deliver just what a woman needs when she needs it."

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A Historian’s Guide to Summer: Independence Day Reading Edition

By Heather Munro Prescott
Via Book Riot, where Derek Attig reminds us that "In a very real way, the Fourth of July is a huge, national holiday celebrating a piece of paper and a scribble of ink. Yes, the celebration is for what that paper and that ink did—ideologically and politically, if not practically or militarily, separate the colonies from Britain—but it’s still, at heart, a celebration of paper and ink."

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Quit Snickering about Michael Douglas, HPV is Serious Business

By Heather Munro Prescott
In an interview about his new film "Behind the Candelabra", actor Michael Douglas told the Guardian that his throat cancer was caused not by years of smoking but "by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus." Douglas said, "I did worry if the stress caused by my son's incarceration didn't help trigger it. But yeah, it's a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer." He shrugs. "And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it. . . It giveth and it taketh." When I first heard this story, I thought Douglas was compensating for playing a flamboyantly gay character by boasting of his heterosexual male prowess (and/or showing that despite his age and illness, he can still satisfy his much younger wife).

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