Category: History

What Will Today’s Immigration Detention Centers Look like to Future Americans?

This piece originally appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2016 and is reprinted here with permission of the author. Janet Golden’s latest book is Babies Made Us Modern: How Infants Brought America into the Twentieth Century. Seventy-five years ago, over 125,000 Americans (the majority of them citizens) were sent to concentration camps. Over half of those interned were children. As… Read more →

The Discovery of the Mental Institution – With Apologies to David J. Rothman

On February 15, 2018, President Donald Trump spoke about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which Nikolas Cruz killed seventeen people. While Trump did mention “a shooter,” who “opened fire on defenseless students and teachers,” when it came to solutions, he focused on mental illness rather than the tools… Read more →

Do This One Thing: Curing Symptoms not the Disorder

This spring, as I was preparing for my wedding, recovering from what was my fourth illness of the year, and attempting to finish the first chapter of my dissertation, my fiancé told me that he got an amazing job offer in Chicago and — surprise! — we had to decide immediately whether to stay in… Read more →

Thrown Open to the Public: Medicine, Modernity, and Disabled Veterans on National Hospital Day in the Interwar Years

On May 12, 1923 hundreds of visitors poured into United States Veterans Hospital 81 for insane soldiers in the Bronx for the third annual National Hospital Day. New Yorkers toured the facilities and viewed exhibits of disabled veterans, paying particular attention to a new printing shop “where patients publish the hospital paper, Hospitality.” Touting the… Read more →

Change We Need? Why the Name of the President’s Fitness Council Matters

At the end of February, President Trump renamed the council that supports American physical fitness as the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition (PCSFN). This is not in and of itself a big deal. It is the fifth time the Council has changed names since its 1956 creation, and seemingly one of the least… Read more →

Prison Cells and Pretty Walls: Gender Coding and American Schools

A few months ago, I was scrolling through Twitter and saw a conversation about redesigning classroom spaces and a phrase caught my attention: “redesign is NOT about being pretty for Pinterest.” As someone interested in the dynamics of gender in education, especially in history, it gave me pause. That the users of the phrase were… Read more →

“Weaponized Babies”; or, Damn, Why Didn’t I Think of Using That Term?

News that Senator Tammy Duckworth brought her baby to the Senate floor for a vote thrilled some and infuriated others. Prior debate over whether babies belonged in the Senate sparked some great pro- and anti-baby remarks that pundits and scholars will enjoy parsing and quoting in coming days, weeks, months … or until babies on… Read more →

“Shock from Loss”: The Reality of Grief in the First World War

On October 24, 1918, fifty-eight-year-old Elizabeth was admitted to the City of London Mental Hospital by her husband.1 He stated that she had been suffering for the past fourteen months with “shock from loss of her two sons in the War.”2 He further explained that her younger son had been killed in action, and her… Read more →

What Would Philippe Pinel Do? Old and New Understandings of Mental Illness

I was intrigued when, on February 1, 2018, I heard the journalist and author Johann Hari on Democracy Now! talking about his most recent book, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—and the Unexpected Solutions. In this book, Hari argued that the primary cause of “rising depression and anxiety is not in our heads.”… Read more →

The Devastation of Peace: Otilia Noeckel and the Army Nurse Corps after the Great War

“I just adore the work I am doing right now. I am on a dressing team with another nurse and a surgeon. We dress wounds almost all day long. Today we did sixty. The horrors of the war are certainly evident around here. Some of the wounds are frightful and some of the poor boys… Read more →