R.E. Fulton

Are Women Human? A Historical Mystery with Medical Interruptions

In 1938, the British crime writer and theologian Dorothy Leigh Sayers addressed a women’s society on the simple question: “Are Women Human?” Adding her voice to the ongoing discourse on the “woman question,” Sayers expressed frustration with the wonder and criticism directed towards those people whose lives divert from the path expected of their gender…. Read more →

Pictures of an Institution: Birth Records at Old Blockley

On September 22, 1859, 30-year-old Margaret Merchant of Philadelphia was admitted to the obstetrical ward at the Blockley Almshouse. She was pregnant with her sixth child — a boy, though with the ultrasound almost exactly a century in the future, Mrs. Merchant could not have known that at the time. A mother of five, Mrs…. Read more →

Report from Pride: LGBT History Is (Not Yet) American History

Last June I participated in the annual Pride March in New York City, the biggest celebration of LGBT pride in the world. My girlfriend and I marched with the Episcopal Diocese of New York, waving a tiny rainbow flag someone handed us and walking behind a long white banner down 5th Avenue. After a slow start,… Read more →

Back in the Narrative: Hamilton as a Model for Women’s History

Last September, the soundtrack of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-nominated Hamilton: An American Musical became available online to Americans everywhere, and history changed. All right, that might be a strong claim — after all, it’s just a Broadway musical, 47 tracks following the life of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, a hip-hop reinterpretation of U.S. History. But the… Read more →

A Letter to the Lady in Pants: Dr. Mary Edwards Walker and the History of Women (Un)Worthies

“WALKER, Mary Edwards (Nov. 26, 1832 – Feb. 21, 1919), Civil War medical worker, dress reformer, and eccentric.” So begins the description of the collected papers of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker at Syracuse University: a strange summary of a strange life.1 Dr. Walker, though she was a contemporary of Drs. Elizabeth Blackwell, Ann Preston, and… Read more →

“The Only Menstrual Murderess”: Blood, Guns, and a Theory of Female Crime

In fact, when she came downstairs on the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Andrew Borden gave her father Andrew Jackson Borden only ten or eleven whacks, and her stepmother Abby Durfee Gray Borden twenty. Nearly a century and a quarter later, criminologists, historians, and true crime buffs are still arguing as to the how… Read more →

Whipped: An Editor, a Lady, and the (Not So) Humorous History of Women’s Anger

In 1859, the popular men’s magazine The National Police Gazette, known for its coverage of sport, saucy ladies, and other topics of general interest to the American heterosexual male, published a powerfully frank feminist rant written to the editors of the Philadelphia Daily News by one of the nation’s earliest female physicians.1 The author was… Read more →

“She Looks the Abortionist and the Bad Woman”: Sensation, Physiognomy, and Misogyny in Abortion Discourse

In November of 1866, a minor sensation rocked the Albany area following the death of the young widow Elizabeth Dunham, who passed away at her mother’s house on the third of the month under, as the Albany Argus primly noted, “suspicious circumstances.” The Argus’s suspicions quickly proved sound. An inquest performed the next day revealed… Read more →

“I Would Just Want To Fly”: Lydia Pinkham, Women’s Medicine, and Social Networks

“I had been completely run-down. I would try to do my housework and could not. I would want to just fly, if only I could. I would lie down but wasn’t satisfied there and would have to get up and do whatever I could to content myself.” So wrote Mrs. Dora Sanders of 112 West… Read more →