Category: Clio Gets Personal

I am a survivor: Childhood Sexual Abuses Collections & the Archives

“I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse,” are words that lend themselves to whispers in the night, a disclosure between friends over a glass of wine. But these are not words that are meant to be spoken by a professional woman working in academia, for they break a social contract – the life of… Read more →

Disability (and) Politics: The Fetterman Fiasco of Fall 2022

In Fall 2022, conservative pundits condemned Senator-elect John Fetterman (D-PA), who had survived a stroke the previous spring, using discriminatory rhetoric. They claimed that because he was communicating using closed-caption technology, he was unfit for office. In addition, they suggested that his disability would render him unfit to perform the duties of his office. Evidently,… Read more →

Dental Work and Colonoscopies, for Someone Who Used to Always Say OK

Content warning: This piece discusses parent-child sexual abuse, coercion, and addiction. Nobody likes getting a colonoscopy. It’s not just the procedure, but the “prep” of taking a laxative and knowing your bathroom needs to be within easy reach for the next thirty-six hours or so. But what I call “Dad’s Playbook” — his instructions for… Read more →

How My Postpartum Guilt Was Healed by a 17th-Century Poet

Both of my children were born too soon. My son was twelve weeks premature, and my daughter arrived ten weeks early. Twice, I tried to will my body not to go into labor. Twice, I delivered a baby unable to breathe. Twice, I sat beside an impossibly tiny body hooked up to machines. The early… Read more →

Breastfeeding During War

The fireworks began at 7 pm, and my anxiety, already made worse by sleep deprivation, was heightened. I had just returned home with my newborn from a traumatic birth experience, and we were struggling to learn to breastfeed and find a sleeping pattern. That evening, after a lot of fuss, I had finally put her… Read more →

Pandemic Academic: Mothering from the Home Office

Twelve years ago, Baby #2 fell asleep in her carseat on the way to the hospital for the weekly mother’s support group. Insomniac Baby #1 had taught us a crucial sanity lesson: let sleeping people sleep. So I picked up Mama, PhD from the passenger seat and settled in for some unexpected reading. Since the… Read more →

Ordinary Death in a Pandemic

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, shortly after noon, my mother, Carol Lenoir Price Swedberg, died in home hospice at the age of 90. I had arrived to be by her side three days earlier despite the fact that COVID-19 had already started to disrupt travel and other aspects of our daily lives. Mom died an… 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 →

An Imperfect Abortion Story

It’s probably not normal to fantasize about a better, less complicated abortion story, but since the current politics of sexual health and reproductive freedom are pretty much a colossal shitshow of complete insanity, let’s start there anyway. Here’s the abortion story I wish were mine: I wish I had been a carefree teenager or an… Read more →

Is a Historian’s Library an Archive or a Living Thing?

This week I purged my bookshelves. As a Ph.D. historian, it initially felt like a risky move — somewhere in between disowning my former self and cutting out part of my brain. In the end, though, I think the effect will be closer to pruning a big, old, tangled shrub so that it has some… Read more →