Deconstructing HIV and AIDS on Designing Women

Before protease inhibitors radically improved the lives of many people living with HIV in the mid-1990s, numerous sitcoms from Mr. Belvedere in 1986 to Grace Under Fire in 1996 fought ignorance and prejudice with more care and passion than many who had been elected to public office. For example, in 2018 on Nursing Clio, Claire… Read more →

The History of Medicine on TV: A Conversation with Diagnosing History editors Katherine Byrne, Julie Anne Taddeo, and James Leggott

With the second season of Bridgerton as one of the most-watched shows on Netflix so far this year, it’s clear that period dramas continue to be hugely popular. Amidst the fancy costumes and beautiful sets, one of the most common themes in a period drama is health and medicine. Medical plots and subplots provide drama,… Read more →

Maternal Grief in Black and White: Enslaved Mothers and Antislavery Literature on the Eve of War

Mrs. Tamor and her six children. Helen and her son, a child of “tender years.” Margaret Garner, an “affectionate mother” of four, also pregnant with a fifth child. An unnamed woman whose infant would soon be taken from her and “whose sufferings, on account of the separation from her child, seemed greater than for her… Read more →

A Double-Edged Sword: War and Motherhood in Nineteenth-Century Latin America

The depictions of war mothers are the touchstone for gender debates and political tensions of any given period in history. In nineteenth-century Latin America, mothers became national icons and were the center of many visual and literary representations of war, at a time when the newly formed nations restricted citizenship to men from the criollo… Read more →

Maternity at War: Introduction

Our latest series at Nursing Clio, “Maternity at War,” takes perhaps obvious inspiration from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Coverage of the war, which began over six months ago on February 24, 2022, has been peppered with stories of mothers. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, for example, used an attack on a maternity hospital to underscore the… Read more →

“Help, I’m Living in My Research!”: Writing on Abortion in a Post-Roe World

In 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, my friend and I were in the midst of writing our honors theses, she on smallpox vaccine hesitancy among the working class and I on female emancipation in Weimar Germany. We would jokingly say “Help, I’m living in my research!” on a regular basis.[1] We drew connections… Read more →

Menstrual Advocacy Is Flowing and Flowering

When I was researching my first book, The Modern Period: Menstruation in Twentieth-Century America (2009), one of the most frequent questions I got was a skeptical “why are you writing about that?” So when I started fielding frequent calls from reporters around 2015, it was a surprise. They had the impression that the world had… Read more →

A Return to the Abortion Handbook?

During one of my last visits with abortion activist Patricia Maginnis in 2015, she handed me The Abortion Handbook for Responsible Women. Published in 1969 and coauthored by Maginnis and her friend and fellow activist Lana Clarke Phelan, The Abortion Handbook was a no-holds-barred assessment of the problem facing abortion-seeking women in the years before… Read more →

Modern Medicine Has Improved Our Lives, But What About Our Deaths?

In 1929, a young woman entered Koch Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. Her symptoms may have included coughing, difficulty breathing, and fatigue. She was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis. The disease is caused by a bacterium and, at the time, had no cure. Her doctor admitted her to a hospital that specialized in the care and… Read more →

What Happens Under the Ether: Vaginismus and the Question of Consent in the Nineteenth Century

Content Warning: sexual violence; gynecological and obstetric violence. Vaginismus is having a moment. A sexual disability that is medically classified as the involuntary spasming of vaginal walls, vaginismus might not seem like an obvious choice for pop culture representation. But the last decade has seen a marked uptick in its visibility: the Netflix miniseries Unorthodox… Read more →