Category: History

But It’s Vintage Lifestyle Change: Surveying the History of American Orthorexia with the Whole30

Before I go any further, let me make one thing perfectly clear: this article is about a diet. Yes, I went on that diet and followed it to the letter. No, you’re not going to find out whether I lost weight. This is partly because I don’t know, since I don’t believe a numerical representation… Read more →

Women, Animals, and the Poetry of Activism

“What could be more calculated to produce brutal wife-beaters than long savage cruelty toward the other animals?”1 When Edith Ward posed this question in an 1892 issue of Shafts, a British feminist and vegetarian newspaper, she was calling attention to the similar ways that women and animals had been dismissed from moral consideration by men,… Read more →

Mommy Wars of Yore: Classism and its Casualties

Most of us are familiar with the Mommy Wars. The Internet is the battlefield, and woman is pitted against woman in a ruthless competition to out-mother each other by breastfeeding longer, Pinteresting better, and home birthing harder. Critics point out that mothers are feeling more pressure than ever before to be certain kinds of mothers, and… Read more →

“The Only Menstrual Murderess”: Blood, Guns, and a Theory of Female Crime

In fact, when she came downstairs on the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Andrew Borden gave her father Andrew Jackson Borden only ten or eleven whacks, and her stepmother Abby Durfee Gray Borden twenty. Nearly a century and a quarter later, criminologists, historians, and true crime buffs are still arguing as to the how… Read more →

Denver’s One-Lung Army: Disease, Disability, and Debility in a Frontier City

This post originally appeared on REMEDIA. In 1879 the famous showman, P.T. Barnum joked that, “Coloradoans are the most disappointed people I ever saw. Two-thirds of them come here to die and they can’t do it.”1 Barnum was referring to Colorado’s growing reputation in the late-nineteenth century as a popular health destination. Long before the state became… Read more →

Whipped: An Editor, a Lady, and the (Not So) Humorous History of Women’s Anger

In 1859, the popular men’s magazine The National Police Gazette, known for its coverage of sport, saucy ladies, and other topics of general interest to the American heterosexual male, published a powerfully frank feminist rant written to the editors of the Philadelphia Daily News by one of the nation’s earliest female physicians.1 The author was… Read more →

Public Health and the Dead at Johnstown

In the twenty-four hour news cycle we live in, we frequently are treated to instantaneous images of disasters unfolding around the globe. I am often reminded how disasters do more than destroy the physical infrastructure of the affected areas; they strike at the very core of individual and community identity. The normal rituals of everyday… Read more →

The Paradox of Thanksgiving

With its odd combination of tradition and invention, its appeals to the past and to the future, its ancestor worship and its acceptance of diversity, Thanksgiving is not merely America’s most treasured celebration but its most paradoxical. But at a moment when we are increasingly confronting the United States’ less-than-perfect history and challenging sacred myths,… Read more →

Nursing Thanksgiving

In November 1820, the Reverend John Marsh delivered a Thanksgiving Day sermon in Haddam, Connecticut that couldn’t have been more orthodox and run of the mill, despite its auspicious occasion, the bicentenary of the Pilgrims’ First Landing in 1620. The town fathers deemed the homily worth publishing, and reading it today is perhaps a slog…. Read more →

“She Looks the Abortionist and the Bad Woman”: Sensation, Physiognomy, and Misogyny in Abortion Discourse

In November of 1866, a minor sensation rocked the Albany area following the death of the young widow Elizabeth Dunham, who passed away at her mother’s house on the third of the month under, as the Albany Argus primly noted, “suspicious circumstances.” The Argus’s suspicions quickly proved sound. An inquest performed the next day revealed… Read more →