Tag: religion

Dutch Monuments for Stillborn Children

“He has been dumped.” Mrs. van Melsen tells me these words as we look down at the inscription on the monument at the graveyard near Sint Pieter’s church in the Dutch city of Maastricht that reads: “Silenced indeed, but never forgotten.” And then Mrs. van Melsen tells me the story of the stillbirth of her… Read more →

Health Care in Colonial Peruvian Convents

Last May I had the opportunity to conduct archival research in Arequipa, Peru. I went in search of fodder for my new research project on health and healing in colonial Latin American convents. I was not disappointed because not only did I find a bundle of fascinating documents, but I also got to ramble the… Read more →

Women, Prayer, and Household Authority in Irish History

Traveling through Ireland in 1909, writer Robert Lynd described “a strange crying—almost a lamentation” that one might hear “on some evenings, if you are in a Catholic house in the most Irish parts of the country.” This strange sound, he elaborated, “was the hour of family prayer.”1 In almost all Irish households, nightly prayers were… Read more →

Buried Secrets, Living Children: Secrecy, Shame, and Sealed Adoption Records

Between 1945 and 1973, single mothers in the United States gave birth in an era of secrecy and shame that historians of adoption call the Baby Scoop Era (BSE).1 During this time, millions of unwed mothers gave birth to children who they often unwillingly relinquished for adoption. Although precise numbers are elusive, as many as… Read more →

Mission Nursing, Migration, and Mobility in Twentieth-Century Iran

The American Association for the History of Nursing is so pleased to partner with Nursing Clio for this special series, which showcases some of the innovative and diverse work being done by historians of nursing across the world. The AAHN holds its annual meeting this week in Rochester, New York, and these essays are windows into the… Read more →

Andrew Jackson’s Love Letters

In our era of political “bromances” between leaders who value aggression and belittle sensitivity, it’s easy to forget that expectations as to how men should interact with other men are always changing. In the 1820s, President Andrew Jackson, whose legacy Donald Trump has embraced, fashioned himself as one of the most virile men of his… Read more →

The Miseries and Heartbreak of Backstreet Abortions: Before and After Roe

In 1967, a group of clergy in New York City founded the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion (CCS) to “bring light and hope to the thousands of people who suffer — usually in quiet, and sometimes in death — the miseries and heartbreak of backstreet abortions.” In an era of back-alley butchers, prohibitively high-priced abortions… Read more →

Bans, Boycotts, and Brawls: The 1970s West Virginia Textbook Controversy

To find tensions in American society, look at K-12 textbooks. Not in them, but in the debates they bring to the fore. In the wake of the Donald Trump victory and right-wing populism, the protests in Kanawha County, West Virginia from 1974-5 are worth learning about. At the Kanawha County Board of Education meeting on… Read more →

Faith, Reproductive Politics and Resistance: A Conversation with the Reverend Joan Bates Forsberg

Reverend Joan Bates Forsberg played a notable role in struggles for contraceptive access in the 1950s and 1960s and abortion access in the 1970s. Although her name regularly appears in historical accounts of Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court case that overturned Connecticut’s ban on contraceptives, historians have repeatedly described Forsberg as a minister’s… Read more →

Mary, Did You Know?: An Essay on Christmas Carols, Medical History, and Reproductive Politics

The Christmas season is a curious time for a historian of women’s health, abortion, and maternal politics: at its historical and religious core, the holiday revolves around the legend of an unusual pregnancy and a remarkable birth. The miracle of Christmas, in the Christian tradition familiar to many Americans today, is not only the birth… Read more →