Category: History

“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 →

Explicit: Censorship, Sexology, and Sexuality in Independent Ireland

When the Irish Free State created the Censorship of Publications Board in 1929, they were arguably asserting their independence.1 By taking control of information, and defining standards of morality and decency through banned literature, censorship was in fact a rejection of colonial rule. Much of the independent Irish identity hinged on a sense of moral… Read more →

“Instruction which she should avoid”: Reflections on 1830s Theater Manager Thomas Hamblin in the #MeToo Era

In June 1838, actress Josephine Clifton canceled an engagement in Lexington, KY and rushed back to New York “in a state of mind bordering on distraction.”1 Her sixteen-year-old sister Louisa Missouri Miller, who had recently debuted on the same New York Bowery stage where Clifton’s own career began, was dead, as the coroner later determined,… Read more →

“There Had Been No Penetration:” Male Surgeons’ Roles in Defining Rape in Eighteenth-Century England

In July of 1715, when Mary Marsh was asked about the details of her rape, she claimed that “the Prisoner threw her upon the Bed, press’d her very hard, and put something into her, but was so modest she would not declare what.”1 When two medical surgeons “depos’d that there had been no penetration,” William… Read more →

Take a Hay Ride: Remembering Louise Hay

On August 30, 2017, Louise Hay died. Hay was a metaphysical healer who began her journey in healing at the First Church of Religious Science in the late 1960s. Her first publication was a 1976 pamphlet that came to be called, “Heal Your Body.” She became a best-selling author and publisher in the 1980s in… Read more →

“Bought some souvenirs as usual and a cheese:” Nurses’ Lives Outside the Hospital in the First World War

A great deal has been written about soldiers’ experiences behind the lines during the First World War and the relationships they forged in the course of their service. From visiting brothels to performing in amateur theatricals, interpersonal and romantic relationships had lasting effects on men after their service had ended.1 Janet S.K. Watson has noted… 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 →