National Women’s History Museum on the Mall

Good day!


Nursing Clio posted this article on the National Women’s History Museum New Republic to Facebook, and I wanted to give it a broader audience.

Sonya Michel (UMBC) writes about the back story to the National Women’s History Museum bills currently moving through Congress. She was part of a Scholarly Advising Committee for the nascent museum before it was abruptly disbanded. I wrote to my Congresspersons as a historian, woman, and voter and urged them not to support HR 863 / SB 399 as currently written. I would like to see historians speak up for substance over donors so this does not become an example of simplistic, populist history overtaking the careful, nuanced work of actual scholars on American women.



Kristen Ehrenberger

Kristen Ann Ehrenberger, PhD (May 2016)
MD Candidate (2016)

Medical Scholars Program
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



Kristen Ann Ehrenberger, PhD (May 2016)
MD Candidate (2016)

Medical Scholars Program
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Published in: on April 7, 2014 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

HSS Rossiter Prize

Dear WHOM,
The deadline for the Margaret Rossiter Prize from HSS has been extended, to May 1.  Details here.
It is for an outstanding article “on the history of women in science. The book or article may take a biographical, institutional, theoretical, or other approach to the topic, which may include discussions of women’s activities in science, analyses of past scientific practices that deal explicitly with gender, and investigations regarding women as viewed by scientists. These may relate to medicine, technology, and the social sciences as well as the natural sciences.”
Lara Freidenfelds, Ph.D.
Published in: on April 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Blog and E-Newsletter

Dear WHOM,

I have started a new blog with the historian’s perspective on sex, reproduction and women’s health in America.   I also have a monthly e-newsletter that will have updates on my book-in-progress, Counting Chickens Before They Hatch?: Miscarriage in American Culture.  If you are interested, you can email me directly to sign up, or do it on my blog.

I hope you’ll take a look, and consider signing up for the newsletter, so you’ll be the first to know when the book is published!  As a bonus, signing up will help show publishers that our field has wide appeal – I am aiming to publish with a trade press, to reach more readers, and trade presses want hard evidence that authors, and books, will have an audience.



Lara Freidenfelds, Ph.D.

Published in: on March 27, 2014 at 11:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Wikipedia edit-a-thon

Dear WHOM Colleagues,
I just stumbled on this notice of a Wikipedia edit-a-thon that the History of Science Dept is sponsoring at Oklahoma next month: .  “The event is open to anyone who wishes to help preserve women’s history! No Wiki editing experience necessary; as needed, tutorials will be provided for Wikipedia newcomers. Female editors are particularly encouraged to attend. Can’t be there the whole time? No problem. Join us for as little or as long as you like.  The first hour will be focused on introducing newbies to Wikipedia tenets and markup  language.”
I went to my first Edit-a-thon at the Brooklyn Museum earlier this month and it really was a life-changing experience.  As I said to the organizer later, better to engage with Wikipedia than to grumble at its inaccuracies.  That experience gave me the courage to take on what had been a truly awful page dedicated to the Trotula texts:   And I was able to create a new page for the real historic woman, Trota, who previously had been invisible because nobody contributing to Wikipedia was engaging with the most recent scholarship: .
Engaging with Wikipedia isn’t quite as “easy” as everyone says.  You need to figure that you’ll have to spend a number of days getting fully up-to-speed with the editing protocols, etc.  But I highly recommend that we all begin to engage with it.  After all, this is the best way to make sure that feminist scholarship gets incorporated into basic cultural narratives.
Monica H. Green
Member, 2013-14
School of Historical Studies
Institute for Advanced Study
Einstein Drive
Princeton, NJ 08540
office:  (609) 734-8192

I wholeheartedly agree that we need to get on board trying to improve this resource.   Lament as I may the fact that students seem to rely on it way too much, it makes more sense to step up and improve it.   I wonder if it might be worth it to start compiling a list of entries we think need improving so that if someone has the time or a particular interest, they might agree to take it on.

I spent so much time on a couple of entries last year, that I had it put into my performance plan for this year!

Suzanne Junod


Just to cheer you on — it’s not just students who rely on Wikipedia.  I know I go to it when I need a quickie background picture of a topic that’s outside my field.  I would highly value all of your entries!

Speaking of Wikipedia edit-a-thons, Claire Potter and I are hosting one at the Berkshire Conference this spring.  It will be Saturday afternoon from 2-5pm.I’ll also be discussing Wikiproject Women’s History as part of a session on Medical History in Other Venues at AAHM.

Heather Munro Prescott

Published in: on March 6, 2014 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Book: Comrades in Health

Comrades in Health: U.S. Health Internationalists, Abroad and at Home

Since the early twentieth century, politically engaged and socially
committed U.S. health professionals have worked in solidarity with
progressive movements around the world. Often with roots in social
medicine, political activism, and international socialism, these
doctors, nurses, and other health workers became comrades who joined
forces with people struggling for social justice, equity, and the
right to health.

Anne-Emanuelle Birn and Theodore M. Brown bring together a group of
professionals and activists whose lives have been dedicated to health
internationalism. By presenting a combination of historical accounts
and first-hand reflections, this collection of essays aims to draw
attention to the longstanding international activities of the American
health left and the lessons they brought home. The involvement of
these progressive U.S. health professionals is presented against the
background of foreign and domestic policy, social movements, and
global politics.

Praise quotes:
“Everybody who cares about health and social justice, internationally
and in the U.S., should read this book!”
–Amy Goodman host of Democracy Now! and 2008 winner Right Livelihood Award

“This wonderful book offers a deeply reflective look at the
motivations, ideology, and outcomes of this critical work, telling the
stories of true heroes and heroines of American medicine and public
health. It is must reading for anyone contemplating international
health activism today.”
–Dr. David Himmelstein and Dr. Steffie Woolhandler cofounders,
Physicians for a National Health Program

“Comrades in Health is a pioneering effort, a major addition to the
study of global public health, and a new perspective on U.S. domestic
health policy.”
–Gerald M. Oppenheimer coauthor of Shattered Dreams? An Oral History
of the South African AIDS Epidemic

Anne-Emanuelle Birn, MA ScD
Professor and Canada Research Chair in International Health (2003-2013)
and Interim Director, Collaborative Doctoral Program in Global Health, University of Toronto

Published in: on September 9, 2013 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Job announcement: Hannah Chair in History of Medicine

Academic Posting in the Faculty of Health Sciences

Faculty of Health Sciences

Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine

McMaster University invites applications from historians who demonstrate an outstanding early record of achievement for a tenure track appointment as the endowed Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine.  McMaster University is a research-intensive university with a long standing reputation as Canada’s most innovative university.  The Hannah Chair will be based in the Faculty of Health Sciences, and will be cross appointed to the Faculty of Humanities.  The incumbent is expected to make a significant contribution to the research and educational mission of the university.  The appointment will be made at the Assistant or Associate Professor rank depending on the qualifications of the successful candidate.


The individual will fulfil the intent of the Hannah Chair endowment by developing scholarship in the history of medicine and encouraging medical students, as well as other health professional students in the Faculty of Health Sciences to be interested in the history of their discipline and be a resource to them.  The successful candidate will provide a regular lecture/rounds series in the history of medicine open to the wider university throughout the year, as well as acting as a resource to the MD Program Curriculum Committee and the History of Medicine Interest Group.


In the Department of History within the Faculty of Humanities, the successful candidate will be expected to teach one undergraduate course per year, commensurate with the cross appointment.  The individual will also participate in graduate supervision and education to further scholarship in the history of medicine.


Candidates should hold a PhD in History with demonstrated research productivity in the History of Medicine.  Candidates should submit a detailed statement of research, teaching and outreach interests, Curriculum Vitae and one sample publication.  They should also arrange for 3 letters of reference to be sent by the application deadline.  Applications received by September 1, 2013 will be assured of consideration.  The starting date of the appointment is negotiable, but is anticipated to be January 1, 2014.


All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however Canadian and permanent residents will be given priority.  McMaster University is strongly committed to employment equity within its community and to recruiting a diverse faculty and staff.  The University encourages applications from all qualified candidates, including women, members of visual minorities, aboriginal persons, members of sexual minorities and persons with disabilities.  Enquiries and applications should be sent via email care of:


Dr. Alan J. Neville
Associate Dean, Education
Faculty of Health Sciences
McMaster University, HSC 2E18
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, ON, L8S 4K1


Published in: on July 31, 2013 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  

How Long Can you wait to have a baby — historical data

From: Karen Reeds []
Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 10:19 AM
Subject: Re: how long can you wait to have a baby — historical data

Courtesy of my daughter (due in August!)

> JEAN TWENGE The Atlantic JUN 19 2013
> Jean M. Twenge is a professor of psychology at San Diego State
> University and the author of The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting
> Pregnant.
> “The widely cited statistic that one in three women ages 35 to 39 will
> not be pregnant after a year of trying, for instance, is based on an
> article published in 2004 in the journal Human Reproduction. Rarely
> mentioned is the source of the data: French birth records from 1670 to
> 1830. The chance of remaining childless-30 percent-was also calculated
> based on historical populations.”

Karen Reeds


Comment from Daphna Oren-Magidor []

It is certainly true that demographic studies have used historical data in
order to look at dropping fertility rates. This is true not only for this
French study, but also for other notable demographic studies of fertility,
such as J. Trussell and C. Wilson, “Sterility in a Population with Natural
Fertility,” Population Studies 39: 2 (1985).

However, it is perhaps worthwhile understanding what historical-data studies
usually aim to do. The purpose of studies that use historical data is to
figure out how fecundity works in populations that practice natural
fertility, i.e in which there are no effective means of contraception on the
one hand, and no effective fertility treatments on the other hand. It is
assumed that such populations offer a view of what the body “actually” does,
without any additional aids or hindrances. Now, granted, this fails to take
into account the fact that modern nutrition and health systems may allow for
greater natural fertility. For example, the age in which girls begin to
menstruate (i.e – to become potentially fertile) has been steadily dropping.
It is not unlikely that the age in which women stop being fertile is
similarly become more delayed and that women’s natural fertility today is
greater than it was two or three or four hundred years ago. And yet, it is
important to understand where the data are coming from and what they are
used for.

This is not to say that I have any particular objection to Twenge’s
conclusions – other, perhaps, than the fact that they don’t seem
particularly new to me. They seem to echo what I’ve seen on websites
regarding conception etc.

However,  I’m not entirely sure if using historical-data studies is as
irrational as Twenge suggests. If nothing else, when we look at Western
Europe, especially places like England, some marriage patterns were
surprisingly similar to our own. The average age of marriage in large parts
of early modern Europe was roughly 23-24 for women, and 27-28 for men. In
other words, not unlike today, many couples did not start having children
until well into their 20s. Thus, it is not necessarily true that people
would be done with their childbearing at an early age. And given the lack of
effective contraception, it is unlikely that people could entirely avoid
getting pregnant if they were having sexual activity.

It is also worth noting that early modern guides to conception were
surprisingly supportive of women conceiving late. For example, The English
Midwife notes that ” “there are however many Women, which seem Barren for a
long time. yea till 35 or 40 years old, and sometimes longer who yet at last

Again, this is not to argue with Twenge’s conclusions, but merely to give
some perspective to the question of historical data and fertility.


Published in: on July 1, 2013 at 10:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Book: The Pathological Family

Dear WHOM colleagues,
I am pleased to write that my book, The Pathological Family: Postwar America and the Rise of Family Therapy, was published recently by Cornell University Press.  Here is the link to the CUP website.
Debbie Weinstein
Assistant Director, Pembroke Center
Director, Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies
Brown University
Box 1958
Providence, RI 02912
Published in: on June 24, 2013 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Exhibit: Extraordinary Women in Science and Medicine

Below, I’ve copied the press release for an exhibition that I suspect
will tempt many of us to go to New York this fall. I’ve had a chance
to look at some of Ronald Smeltzer’s collection, and it is truly
remarkable. Take him up on his offer of private walkarounds for small

Karen Reeds (with apologies for cross-posting)
Independent curator, museum consultant, historian of medicine
Princeton Research Forum, a community of independent scholars.

Press Release                                                                      Contact: Megan Smith
For immediate release                                            

Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of Achievement
At the Grolier Club
September 18 – November 23, 2013

The Grolier Club is pleased to present a landmark exhibition exploring
the legacy of thirty-two remarkable women whose extraordinary
scientific accomplishments in physics, chemistry, astronomy,
mathematics, computing, and medicine changed science. Extraordinary
Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of Achievement will
illuminate the often little-known careers and accomplishments of these
female scientists, examining their work and lives over four centuries.
More than 150 original artifacts, including books, manuscripts,
serials, authors’ separates, Ph.D. theses, and laboratory apparatus
(such as that used by Marie Curie during her earliest work on
radioactivity) will be on view, providing a remarkable overview of the
scientific contributions of this eminent group.
Included will be numerous items with special attributes and
provenance. Of particular interest will be Emilie Du Châtelet’s 1759
translation of Newton’s Principia with the bookplate of Talleyrand;
copies of all of her other scientific publications; a mathematics
workbook and a letter, both in her hand; and materials about her
fourteen-year relationship with Voltaire, including a book she
co-authored—although without her name on the title page. A scientific
breakthrough in genetics written on a brown paper bag is displayed.
The exhibition also serves to announce a falsely attributed first
edition due to a typesetters error in the seventeenth century and a
variety of other bibliographical discoveries.
Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of
Achievement highlights such luminaries of the physical sciences as
Marie and Irène Curie, Marietta Blau, Lise Meitner, Maria Goeppert
Mayer, C.-S. Wu, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, and Rosalind Franklin in
physics and chemistry. Astronomers  include Maria Cunitz, the most
advanced scholar in mathematical astronomy of the seventeenth century,
and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, whose Ph.D. thesis in 1925 was the
beginning of modern astrophysics. Among the mathematicians highlighted
are Sophie Germain, Sophie Kowalevski, Emmy Noether, Emilie Du
Châtelet, Maria Agnesi, and Florence Nightingale—for her work in
statistics. Grace Hopper, the creator of many fundamental concepts in
digital computing, is featured. Represented also are Laura Bassi,
Hertha Ayrton, Marie Meurdrac, Marie Thiroux d’Arconville, Elizabeth
Fulhame, and Ada, Countess of Lovelace.
Among medical scientists, the exhibition features Gerti Cori,
instrumental in unveiling the fundamental mechanism of metabolism;
Gertrude Elion, the first to design medicines effective in the cure of
cancer and viral diseases; Rosalyn Yalow, developer of the powerful
analytic tool, radioimmunoassay; and Florence Sabin, whose discoveries
form the basis for our current understanding of cellular immunity. Two
game-changers in medical science are Rita Levi-Montalcini, discoverer
of nerve growth factor, and Barbara McClintock who discovered that
genes are not fixed but move—the key paradigm shift in modern
genetics. Great and influential clinical physicians include Louise
Bourgeois Boursier, midwife to King Henry IV and Marie de Medici of
France; the pioneering pediatric neurologist Mary Putnam Jacobi; and
Helen Taussig, designer of the life-saving “blue baby” operation.
The exhibition is designed to pose questions about women’s
recognition—or lack thereof—in the sciences. Topics treated include
educational opportunities, role models, the use of social capital,
individual styles of doing science, and gender issues associated with
society norms of the periods. The viewer may consider such questions,
for example, as who deserved and who received Nobel Prize awards among
the modern women. The intention is to raise awareness about how
women’s roles have been limited in the development of the sciences.
The exhibition was organized by Curators Ronald K. Smeltzer, Ph.D.,
Paulette Rose, Ph.D., and Robert J. Ruben, M.D.,
LOCATION AND TIME:  Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four
Centuries of Achievement will be on view at the Grolier Club, 47 East
60th Street, New York, from Sept. 18 – Nov. 23, 2013. The exhibition
will be open to the public free of charge, Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m.
CATALOGUE: An illustrated catalogue in conjunction with the exhibition
will be available at the Grolier Club.

Thursday, October 3, 2013, 6:00 PM–7:30 PM: Collectors’ Forum.
Saturday, October 26, 2013, 12:00 PM–5:00 PM: Symposium.
October 16, 23 and 30, 2013, 1:00 PM–2:00 PM: Curator-hosted tours of
the exhibition.

For special visits with a curator as host, contact Ronald K. Smeltzer:


Published in: on June 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bibliography on Miscarriages

Dear WHOM,

The interdisciplinary entry I wrote on miscarriage for Oxford Bibliographies Online is now available:
Lara Freidenfelds, Ph.D.
Published in: on June 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

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