Category: History

Why We Should Recognize Dr. Katharine Bement Davis Alongside Dr. Alfred Kinsey as a Pioneering Sex Researcher

In 1917, when Dr. Katharine Bement Davis accepted philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s invitation to lead the Bureau of Social Hygiene (BSH), an organization dedicated to combating sex work and sexually transmitted infections, he expressed “very great satisfaction” at the prospect of working with her. Rockefeller had “the highest opinion of your ability,” and was… Read more →

“Women Cry – Men Swear”: Gender and Stuttering in the Early Twentieth-Century United States

Speech specialist Ernest Tompkins was not alone in thinking that he had figured out what caused stuttering. But when Tompkins penned his 1918 Scientific American article, he not only aimed to disprove other theories from his contemporaries, he also wanted to conclude once and for all the very reason why there seemed to be more… Read more →

What Britney Spears’s Forced IUD Can Teach Us About Women’s History

When Britney Spears announced that she was forced to use long-term birth control in the form of an IUD and wasn’t being allowed to have another child, the world was shocked. If the fight for reproductive rights usually centers on access to birth control and abortions, it’s in part because there’s no debate that forcefully… Read more →

Echo Chambers

Anthony Antonio has been charged with five crimes related to his participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. His attorney, Joseph Hurley, does not deny Antonio engaged in illegal and violent actions on that day but claims that his client suffers from “Foxitis.” As Hurley tells… Read more →

The Handmaids of Surgery: The Role of Nurse Anesthetists

Imagine the horror of waking up in the middle of your surgery – or worse, never being asleep at all. In the early days of surgery, this was a reality. Patients were awake throughout procedures, given alcohol and something to hold on to in order to endure the pain. The introduction of general anesthesia made… Read more →

Screaming Over the Rubble: The Shifting Role of the Family in American Disaster Victim Identification

When the South Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida, collapsed in the early hours of June 24, I shuddered to think about how many lives had been lost. Because of my research on the history of disaster victim identification (DVI), however, I also started thinking ahead to the recovery of the dead. I knew that the… Read more →

The Problem with Medical History in the Age of COVID-19

The pandemic has prompted a proliferation of newspaper articles, think-pieces, and other public writing on the history of medicine. Some have been quite thoughtful, offering new perspectives on the past and present of science, technology, and healthcare, and making radical suggestions for the post-coronavirus future. Others, however, have indulged some of our worst instincts about… Read more →

The School of Nursing at Starozakonnych Hospital in Interwar Warsaw: How Amelia Greenwald and Sabina Schindlerówna Challenged Antisemitism in the Nursing Profession

In the spring of 1923, Amelia Greenwald arrived in Warsaw, Poland, to undertake an urgent task. A nurse from the United States, she was to establish a school of nursing for young Jewish women at the Starozakonnych Hospital.[1] The project was funded by the Joint Distribution Committee, an organization founded during the Great War to… Read more →

When Philadelphia Became a Battlefield, Its Surgeons Bore Witness

In the summer of 1844, Philadelphians rioted with an intensity beyond anything the city had endured for decades. A new political party – dedicated to restricting the rights of immigrants – sought to gain followers by staging mass rallies throughout Philadelphia County. When they gathered in the predominantly Irish-Catholic Third Ward of Kensington in May,… Read more →

Ōta Chōu’s Vaccination: Medicine and Modern Girls in 1930s Japanese Painting

In the midst of the 2021 COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign, the “vaccine selfie” – often a self-portrait cell-phone snapshot taken in the car or at the pharmacy with a small adhesive bandage on the arm and a vaccination card in the hand – has become a popular social media trend in the United States. Yet,… Read more →