BMI, Race, and Bodies: How Race Science Reemerges in the Unlikeliest of Places

The connection between Black female bodies and ill health, fatness, and inferiority marks the historical record on race and health. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a prominent contemporary marker of this linkage. While there are strong arguments for and against the contention that there is a causal connection between BMI and ideal health, these… Read more →

COVID-19 Didn’t Break the Food System. Hunger Was Already Here.

Like everything else in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, American food has become almost unrecognizable overnight. Grocery stores picked clean of pantry items and baby formula. Closed schools jeopardizing millions of students’ access to meals. Restaurants converting to delivery and takeout, or shutting their doors, perhaps never to reopen. Produce rotting in the fields… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Pear power. Female husbands. The (yelling) mothers of us all. Athens, Georgia in Reagan’s America. The Black American amputation epidemic. Lessons from the history of the polio vaccine. How do we record history in the internet age? Electric lighting and the housewife’s moral challenge…. Read more →

Weaving Wool into Death: Burial in 17th-Century England

The rituals we use to honor someone in death often reflect the way that they lived, from their religion to their favorite color. People have strong preferences for what will happen to their body after they die and what kind of funeral they want. Twenty-four percent of UK adults have already chosen which songs they… Read more →

Understanding Her Position and Place: An African American Nurse at the Stewart Indian School, 1908-1917

In September 1908, Allie Helena Barnett left her family in Atchison, Kansas, and traveled to Carson City, Nevada, where she had accepted a job as a nurse at the Stewart Indian School. Barnett, an African American woman, had graduated from nursing school at Provident Hospital in Chicago in 1906. At the Stewart Indian School, she… Read more →

A Complete Halt to the Liquor Traffic: Drink and Disease in the 1918 Epidemic

When the annual Pennsylvania convention of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) began on October 4, 1918, delegates “rejoiced” that the state Board of Health had closed all saloons, and most other sites of public assembly, as a preventive measure against the influenza epidemic. The most influential organization advocating for prohibition, the WCTU pressed for… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Our mothers, before us. Dykes, Camera, Action! The linguistics of cooties. The real life Lord of the Flies. “Wheatless Wednesdays” in WWI. Plague doctor iconography in 2020. The grim history of counting the dead. A new history of being Asian-American. Designing the world’s first home… Read more →

What to Expect When You’re Expiring: Pregnancy and Death in Seventeenth-Century England

On October 12, 1622, a 26-year-old English woman named Elizabeth Jocelin gave birth to her first child, a baby girl. Nine days later, she died of puerperal fever, an infection of the genital tract — most likely from bacteria accidentally introduced by a birthing attendant during labor — that can cause fatal sepsis in postpartum… Read more →

Why We Need to Talk About Death Right Now

I can hear some of you say, “Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?” That’s the same question American cartoonist Roz Chast’s parents asked her when she wanted to talk to them about their deaths. Her title represents the general attitude towards death in American society today. Even in the midst of a global pandemic,… Read more →

The Deathbed: A New Nursing Clio Series

This past fall, when we began work on a Nursing Clio series about death, we never imagined the world would look the way it does today. Early reports of illness in China were limited and, as they often are, written in the confident language of exceptionalism: epidemics happen over there, to other people, in other… Read more →