Category: History

Maternal-Child Separation in the Carceral State

In 1966, the American “war on crime” began with Lyndon B. Johnson’s Special Message to the Congress on Crime and Law Enforcement. In this speech, he emphasized community wellbeing as justification for a massive federal investment in the criminal legal system. In the final words of this address, he stated that “the ways we deal… Read more →

Her Heroine Mother: Maternity and British Secret Agents in World War II

In the waning months of World War II, news began to circulate that the British had been sending operatives to German-occupied Europe to conduct clandestine warfare and that some of them had been women. These female secret agents served as couriers, radio operators, and organizers in the French (F) Section of the Special Operations Executive… Read more →

Anacleto Palabay in the Metropole: Public Health, Migration, and Deportation in the Case of a Filipino Leprosy Patient

Anacleto Palabay, a young Filipino domestic worker in Washington, D.C., was intent on returning home to the Philippines. His soon-to-be wife was waiting there for him and he was eager to build a life with her after making money while living in the United States. Palabay’s story was a common one among Filipina/o migrants to… Read more →

Reading Disability History Back into American Girl

I recently spent a series of afternoons digging through closets at my parents’ house, searching for my sisters’ and my once beloved American Girl collection. In boxes and boxes of doll clothes, furniture, and accessories, I found Molly McIntire’s nightstand, complete with a doll-sized hot water bottle inside. The hot water bottle was adorned with… Read more →

“Weather Bad and Whales Un-cooperative”: The Misadventures of Mid-Century Whale Cardiology Expeditions

In the mid-1950s, newspapers and magazines excitedly reported on scientist-explorers undertaking daring expeditions to harpoon gray whales off the North American Pacific Coast. Tales of enraged mother whales bashing boats and groups of men attempting risky technological feats painted an image of maritime scientific adventure. The scene of these adventures was the foggy southern California… Read more →

Deconstructing HIV and AIDS on Designing Women

Before protease inhibitors radically improved the lives of many people living with HIV in the mid-1990s, numerous sitcoms from Mr. Belvedere in 1986 to Grace Under Fire in 1996 fought ignorance and prejudice with more care and passion than many who had been elected to public office. For example, in 2018 on Nursing Clio, Claire… Read more →

“Help, I’m Living in My Research!”: Writing on Abortion in a Post-Roe World

In 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, my friend and I were in the midst of writing our honors theses, she on smallpox vaccine hesitancy among the working class and I on female emancipation in Weimar Germany. We would jokingly say “Help, I’m living in my research!” on a regular basis.[1] We drew connections… Read more →

A Return to the Abortion Handbook?

During one of my last visits with abortion activist Patricia Maginnis in 2015, she handed me The Abortion Handbook for Responsible Women. Published in 1969 and coauthored by Maginnis and her friend and fellow activist Lana Clarke Phelan, The Abortion Handbook was a no-holds-barred assessment of the problem facing abortion-seeking women in the years before… Read more →

Modern Medicine Has Improved Our Lives, But What About Our Deaths?

In 1929, a young woman entered Koch Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. Her symptoms may have included coughing, difficulty breathing, and fatigue. She was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis. The disease is caused by a bacterium and, at the time, had no cure. Her doctor admitted her to a hospital that specialized in the care and… Read more →

What Happens Under the Ether: Vaginismus and the Question of Consent in the Nineteenth Century

Content Warning: sexual violence; gynecological and obstetric violence. Vaginismus is having a moment. A sexual disability that is medically classified as the involuntary spasming of vaginal walls, vaginismus might not seem like an obvious choice for pop culture representation. But the last decade has seen a marked uptick in its visibility: the Netflix miniseries Unorthodox… Read more →