Woman in Focus: Jessie Tarbox Beals

Had she never laid her eyes on a camera, Jessie Tarbox Beals might have made a life as a teacher. In 1887, at the age of seventeen, she had just moved from her home of Ontario, Canada to pursue a teaching job in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.1 The daughter of a successful sewing machine manufacturer who had… Read more →

Architecting a “New Normal”? Past Pandemics and the Medicine of Urban Planning

COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere. Months into the global pandemic, when many parts of the world have entered a second wave of outbreaks, health experts have cautioned the need for a “new normal” in which medical precautions guide most of our daily activities. Since cities have been hit hardest by the pandemic, policymakers have begun discussing… Read more →

Fresh to Death: African Americans and RIP T-Shirts

My 28-year-old nephew, Willie Lee “Chill” Oglesby, Jr., was murdered on November 8, 2017. One of the first things that his mother and my sister, Aleta (affectionately called “Snooky”), did was to commission Novel T’s to create 44 official RIP (Rest in Peace) T-shirts. As ritualized mourning wear, all of Willie’s immediate and extended kin,… Read more →

Weaponizing Weakness, Diagnosing by Gif

We’ve all seen the clips from President Trump’s commencement speech at the United States Military Academy on June 13. One clip of Trump drinking lasts approximately three seconds, while another of him walking down a ramp lasts 15 seconds. In no time, then, the truth is out: Trump is not well. The evidence can be… Read more →

“The Sex Lady Talks”: Disability Rights and the Normalization of Sex in a 1980s Institution

When recreational therapist Lisa Freeman began working in the Dual Diagnosis Unit at Indiana’s Central State Hospital in 1986, she frequently encountered patients having sex in and around the unit.1 Central State was a long-term psychiatric hospital and the Dual Diagnosis Unit (DDU) served patients who had been diagnosed with both mental illness and intellectual… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Jumping for justice. The death of Hannah Fizer. Eugenics as entertainment. Dental cartoons from 1945. Choosing love over eugenics. A brief history of dangerous others. A song that changed music forever. Taylor Swift as history of medicine books. Naming birds and the stain of… Read more →

News from the Dead

On December 14, 1650, 22-year old Anne Greene was led up the gallows in Oxford. She had been charged with infanticide; after sleeping with her employer’s grandson, she gave birth to a child—one she insisted was stillborn—whose body had been found “covered…with dust and rubbish” in the outhouse where she delivered it.1 After praying and… Read more →

Past Practices: A Review of Ruth MacKay’s Life in a Time of Pestilence: The Great Castilian Plague of 1596–1601

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a number of historians of medicine and other scholars have written and given interviews about past public health crises. E. Thomas Ewing’s look at how newspapers focused on kissing during the 1918 influenza outbreak suggested that the emphasis on kissing via handkerchief 100 years ago signaled potentially troubling questions for… Read more →

Psychiatry and Homosexuality Draft Exemptions during the Vietnam War

When Bob McIvery reported for his mandatory physical exam to determine if he could be drafted into the Army, the doctor didn’t believe he was gay. Although McIvery, a member of the Gay Liberation Front, had checked the “homosexual tendencies” box on his pre-induction medical form and stated verbally that he was gay, he was… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news On sex with demons. Archiving at a distance. Should we kill chivalry?  A history of the raised fist. The post office as public service. The unlikely history of a gay porn landmark. The controversial history behind hurricane names. An old postcard gives clues to… Read more →