Category: History

Rediscovering “Good” and “Bad” Heads in the Phrenological Present

It’s always a little exciting when your research area shows up in the news, especially when your work inclines to the obscure. This is even the case when the thing you study is about something better left in the past – no one should want to bring back phrenology into the present day. And yet,… Read more →

Signing for Life: Deaf Gay Activists Navigate the AIDS Epidemic, 1986–1991

Before a small crowd of journalists at San Diego’s Point Loma Hospital, through sign language and their interpreters, John Canady’s partner J.T. Tupper, and sister, Mary Noble, recounted the ordeal their loved one endured prior to his dying of AIDS at the age of 37.[1] On March 18, 1986, Canady, a deaf postal worker, had… Read more →

A Historic Intersex Awareness Day

This year’s Intersex Awareness Day, October 26, marked a historic pivot. A few days before, Boston Children’s Hospital revealed that its physicians would no longer perform certain nonconsensual infant genital surgeries on babies born with atypical genitals. They join the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, which made a similar announcement in… Read more →

The Little Suffragist Doll: Cotton, White Supremacy, and Sweet Little Dolls

What does a pattern for doll-making have to tell us about the racial and gender politics of American suffragists in the 1910s? The Little Suffragist Doll sewing pattern from 1914 seems quite simple. Her front and back printed on cotton cloth, this smiling little doll-in-waiting begs to be made three-dimensional. She is rosy-cheeked and bedecked… Read more →

Pregnancy and Miscarriage on Social Media: New Metaphors to Make Miscarriages Easier to Talk About, and Easier to Bear

For someone who has been trying for a pregnancy, it is naturally tempting to want to share the exciting and potentially life-changing news of a positive home pregnancy test. Common wisdom has been to keep it secret, though, until the end of the first trimester, once miscarriage is less likely. After all, if you’ve taken… Read more →

Walls of Moms: Maternal Bodies and Public Space in Portland and Argentina

On July 18, 2020 a group of mothers gathered on the streets of Portland. These women, the majority of whom were white, stood together as a living barrier between BLM protestors and armed federal agents. Wearing yellow and holding sunflowers, the women represented a particular vision of white, middle-class, US motherhood. Some of these women… Read more →

“All the World’s a Harem”: Perceptions of Masked Women during the 1918–1919 Flu Pandemic

During the influenza epidemic that ravaged the United States in the fall and winter of 1918 and 1919, cities across the country advised or required masks. Soon, discussions of masks took center stage across American media. Newspapers were filled with articles explaining how to make, wear, and purchase masks. From their inception, these discussions were… Read more →

Woman in Focus: Jessie Tarbox Beals

Had she never laid her eyes on a camera, Jessie Tarbox Beals might have made a life as a teacher. In 1887, at the age of seventeen, she had just moved from her home of Ontario, Canada to pursue a teaching job in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.1 The daughter of a successful sewing machine manufacturer who had… Read more →

Architecting a “New Normal”? Past Pandemics and the Medicine of Urban Planning

COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere. Months into the global pandemic, when many parts of the world have entered a second wave of outbreaks, health experts have cautioned the need for a “new normal” in which medical precautions guide most of our daily activities. Since cities have been hit hardest by the pandemic, policymakers have begun discussing… Read more →

Weaponizing Weakness, Diagnosing by Gif

We’ve all seen the clips from President Trump’s commencement speech at the United States Military Academy on June 13. One clip of Trump drinking lasts approximately three seconds, while another of him walking down a ramp lasts 15 seconds. In no time, then, the truth is out: Trump is not well. The evidence can be… Read more →