Category: History

“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 →

History at Home in the Tenement Museum

Several times a day, several days a week, I stand with a group of strangers in the parlor of a Lithuanian immigrant family who arrived in New York’s Lower East Side in 1901. I explain that when the Rogarshevsky family observed the Sabbath each week, their two teenage daughters were away at their jobs in… Read more →

Creating Battle Signs: Iraq/Afghanistan War Veterans, Art Therapy, and Rehabilitation

During my first research trip to the National Archives in College Park I stayed with my family in Lorton, Virginia just outside Washington, D.C. Every morning I drove past Fort Belvoir, a large and seemingly endless military base with its own school system and stores, and wondered what the inner workings were like. All I… Read more →

Black Nurse, White Milk: Wet Nursing and Slavery in Brazil

In 1888, Brazil became the last country to abolish slavery in the Western hemisphere. The process of emancipation in the country, however, had been gradual, beginning in 1850 with the final end of the slave trade. In the second half of the nineteenth century, legislation continued to chip away at the institution of slavery, including… Read more →

#MeToo and the Massage Envy Scandal: Looking Back and Beyond

“Massage brings all the weirdos out of the woodwork. I mean real sick people who have problems,” massage therapist Kathleen Dynes told the Los Angeles Times in 1978, explaining she could understand why a local homeowners association boycotted her fledgling suburban massage business, despite her best efforts to make the office, where her mother also… Read more →

Pathology in Perspective: Wartime Specimen Collecting and the Case of Private Hurdis’ Skull

Rarely does a debate about the bones of soldiers collected during World War I enter into public consciousness. But in recent weeks, the skull of an Australian soldier held by Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians made headlines after the museum removed it from display. The Mütter Museum agreed to return the skull… Read more →

Listening to Women: Accessing Women’s Pain from First World War Pension Records

In March 1917, Nurse G., a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse, was on duty at 29 General Hospital in Salonika, Greece, when the hospital sustained its second air raid in a week.1 According to the matron of the hospital, “in the next tent to where she was on duty a bomb was dropped, completely wrecking… Read more →