The Vaccine at the End of this Pandemic

In the summer of 1952, parents didn’t let their children visit playgrounds, swimming pools were closed, movie theaters shuttered, and when September finally arrived, some public schools didn’t open. The polio epidemic reached its peak that year, after several years of steadily increasing numbers of infections and deaths. In early December 1952, The New York… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Why hair matters. The other pandemic. The trouble with Triscuits. The myth of black immunity. The history of jigsaw puzzles. Snails, salves, water, and syrups. The tiger king of the 19th century. The epidemic that preyed on children. Childbirth and maternal death in Venezuela. … Read more →

Art as a Tonic: Making Pottery and Defeating Tuberculosis at the Arequipa Sanatorium

In the spring of 1913 journalist Elise Roorbach was walking around downtown San Francisco when she passed a gift store. She saw some unusual vases in the window and went into the shop to look. They weren’t finely formed, and they didn’t have shiny glazes in pretty colors. Some were rather crude, with drip marks… Read more →

Portraying Abortion in Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Film and TV portrayals of abortion in the last decade have become both more prevalent and complex. Take the different abortion storylines over the course of HBO’s series Girls (love it or hate it). In Season 1’s “Vagina Panic,” Jessa is scheduled to have an abortion when she conveniently has her “period” in a bar’s… Read more →

Dr. Fauci and My Mom

In these scary times, many of us find comfort in watching Dr. Anthony Fauci on TV. I like seeing Dr. Fauci for another reason: he rekindles memories of my mom, who died in 1990. Dr. Fauci was my mother’s doctor. For five years in the 1980s, she was a patient at the National Institute of… Read more →

Luxury or Right? Artificial Insemination by Donor in 1970s France

Hungary recently made international headlines by announcing that the state would soon cover the cost of IVF treatments. Along with financial incentives for Hungarian women who produce four children, IVF will form part of Prime Minister’s Orban’s strategy for increasing the Hungarian birthrate. The announcement attracted international attention in part because Orban connected his support… Read more →

¡Escúchanos! Immigration and Reproductive Politics

Two years ago, the case of a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant catalyzed the creation of a class action suit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Jane Doe, the name given to maintain her anonymity and safety as a pregnant minor, and her story of struggle and success captivated… Read more →

Training Future Wives and Mothers: Vocational Education and Assimilation at the Stewart Indian School

In 1879, the US government launched an expansive effort to restructure Indigenous lives by enrolling Native American children in off-reservation boarding schools. By the early 1900s, a network of federally managed boarding schools emerged across the country to “civilize” Native children. The architects of this system believed they had a mission to uplift and assimilate… Read more →

How Perceived Racial Differences Created a Crisis in Black Women’s Healthcare

In 2016, a black baby born in Charlottesville, Virginia, was almost ten times more likely than a white baby to die in their first year of life.1 That same year, researchers from the University of Virginia revealed that nearly 21% of first-year medical students at the school believed that black patients had stronger immune systems… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Shutting down Hawai‘i. The teenage murderess. Women also know Washington. Finding asexuality in the archives. Archiving web content on COVID-19. Medicinal leeches and where to find them. The fashionable history of social distancing. The surprisingly contentious history of Purell. Lessons from my grandma on… Read more →