Elizabeth Fee – In Memoriam

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Dr. Elizabeth Fee on October 17, 2018. Dr. Fee was a remarkable and influential public health historian, whose personal and professional trajectories led her to speak truth to and about power in public health, past and present. 


Born in Northern Ireland in 1946, during the time of the “Troubles,” to Irish-Methodist missionary parents, Liz’s childhood brought her into contact with peoples and struggles across the globe. At just 5 weeks of age, she was whisked away by her parents to civil war-era China, where she lost hearing in one ear from an untreated bout with scarlet fever. This turned her into an astute reader of people’s behaviors, and later made her a skilled meeting chair (who appeared to be fully integrating every last comment while she deftly crafted consensus around an invariably progressive agenda). In mid-childhood, she attended school in Malaysia, after which her family returned to Belfast. There, she came of age amidst festering political and religious violence, learning firsthand that history is told and retold by protagonists and witnesses, oppressors and oppressed.


Dr. Fee achieved First Class Honours at Cambridge University in biochemistry and history and philosophy of science, proceeding to earn 2 Master’s degrees and then a doctorate in history of science (1978) from Princeton University, with a dissertation focusing on “Science and the `Woman Question,’ 1860-1920″ as analyzed through Victorian-era periodicals.


From 1974 to 1995 she was a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health (now Bloomberg School), first in health humanities, then international health, and finally health policy, infusing historical and critical perspectives into each of these fields. Deeply curious about her institutional base, in 1987 she published Disease and Discovery: A History of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 1916-1939. In this first-ever biography of the first-ever school of public health, Dr. Fee crafted what might have been a staid institutional history into an engaging and eyebrow-raising account that retraces the powerful forces, figures, and ideologies that shaped the school’s founding and early trajectory.  She revisited this theme in later works, illuminating the politics of health training in distinct milieus and demonstrating how power was marshalled (and who marshalled it) in the presumed neutral and technocratic domain of public health education.


Her early interests in feminism, women, and science burgeoned into several notable works on women, gender, and health, including Women and Health Care: A Comparison of Theories” International Journal of Health Services (1975), and the co-edited volume (with Nancy Krieger), Women’s Health, Politics, and Power: Essays on Sex\Gender, Medicine, and Public Health (1994).


Ever attuned to her surroundings and the historical moment, Liz co-edited (with Daniel Fox) two pathbreaking volumes on AIDS, as it was becoming a global modern plague:  AIDS: The Burden of History (1988) and AIDS: The Making of a Chronic Disease (1992). These critically insightful books became instant classics, bringing past reflections and emerging insights to bear on ongoing questions and dilemmas for a public desperate to make sense of what was going on. In applying her keen analysis of the politics of sexuality to pressing public health issues during the early years of the AIDS epidemic, Liz’s writings about the disease and its effects among gay men, straight women, and lesbians helped inform a now growing scholarship on LGBTQ+ health and well-being.

In 1990 Dr. Fee took over editorship of a rather moribund historical section of the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), called “Public Health, Then and Now” (which had earned the moniker of “Public Health, Now and Then” due to its infrequent appearance!). Together with Ted Brown –and under the supportive guidance of AJPH editors-in-chief Mary Northridge (1998-2015) and now Alfredo Morabia (2015-present)–both champions of critical public health history, she transformed this section into one of the most dynamic aspects of the journal, making it a go-to venue for cutting-edge history of public health scholarship. The pair also created two new features of this section: “Voices from the Past,” which reprints original sources of public health thinkers, researchers, leaders, and activists, and “Images of Health,” capturing visual dimensions of these actors.  Exemplary among the decades-long and inordinately productive Rodgers and Hammerstein-style collaboration between Liz and Ted, and between Liz and other co-authors, were tributes to African-American polymath social scientist, anti-racism/anti-discrimination activist/leader, and avowed leftist W.E.B. DuBois; anarchist-revolutionary, free love advocate, and nurse-midwife Emma Goldman; the first US <out> gay health officer, civil rights activist, leftist agitator, and amateur archivist Walter Lear; and socialist politician, health minister, Latin American social medicine leader, and Chilean President, Salvador Allende.

Somehow Liz also found time to work on many other topics, ranging from the history of social class as a “Missing Link in U.S. Health Data” (co-authored with Krieger), to New York City’s garbage, to interviewing the Cuban Health Minister on sex education, to local history, co-editing The Baltimore Book: New Views of Local History (1991).

These varied interests made their way into her popular and perennially award-winning courses on women and health, and history of public health, and into extracurricular highlights such as a municipal activism bus tour called “Baltimore by Bus: Steering a New Course through the City’s History.”

After influencing countless students and many colleagues over two decades at Johns Hopkins (where I was privileged to be her advisee), in 1995 Dr. Fee was named Chief of the History of Medicine Division (HMD), National Library of Medicine (NLM), at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, USA. In 2011, she became the Chief Historian of the NLM, a position she held until her retirement just a few months ago. At NLM, Dr. Fee added leadership and administrative skills, as well as a talent for engaging with broader publics, to her teaching and writing finesse.


Liz’s political goal of raising historical consciousness as a conduit for societal change, her love of shows, and sharp eye for the visual –the latter undoubtedly schooled by her artist mother who pushed her to precision when naming particular shades of colors– made her role as public convener of exhibits and plays all the more apt. Indeed, she oversaw the resurrection and dramatic expansion of NLM’s public exhibits with a dynamic team of curators, covering such topics as women leaders in medicine, “Emotions and Disease,” “Dream Anatomy,” “The Once and Future Web: Worlds Woven by the Telegraph and Internet,” and Frankenstein. To ensure an ample budget for HMD, Dr. Fee testified on Capitol Hill, navigating treacherous political waters with her enormous mastery of language and spellbinding Irish-English-North American lilt. When higher-ups questioned the inclusion of “revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara” in an exhibit that highlighted famous people with asthma, Dr. Fee winkingly accepted the directive that Che be characterized instead as a “freedom fighter,” a term that, ironically, made Guevara acceptable to mainstream North American audiences rather than the reverse.

In the early 1990s, having long been active in various history of medicine and health professional associations, Dr. Fee helped co-found two crucial organizations that brought recognition and legitimacy to left-wing activism and scholarship in public health history. The Sigerist Circle was founded in 1990 by a group of medical and public health historians and activists to give special attention to issues of class, race, and gender, and to the use of Marxist, feminist, postcolonial, and related critical methodologies in the analysis of medical history. Named for the pioneering history of medicine scholar-activist Henry Sigerist, the group’s activities include an annual scholarly session (adjacent to the meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine), participation in contemporary political affairs, and –before listserves and search engines made them redundant– newsletters and a periodic bibliography of works otherwise difficult to locate. Dr. Fee served as both Vice-President and President of the Sigerist Circle in its nascent years, helping to animate events, and mentor and provide mutual assistance and intellectual stimulation to young scholars and other colleagues. Liz and Ted Brown also co-edited the monumental volume Making Medical History: The Life and Times of Henry E. Sigerist (1997), bringing additional credibility to the Sigerist Circle’s work.

In 1994 Liz helped cofound the Spirit of 1848, which is a Caucus affiliated with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and is committed to underscoring and analyzing the integral connections between social justice and public health. Both its listserve and its sessions at the APHA annual meeting are aimed at addressing the professional, practical, and scholarly isolation many progressives experience – and at working collectively and in dialogue, to understand and change how social divisions based on social class, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, and age affect the public’s health. With the Spirit of 1848’s history committee consciously linked to the Sigerist Circle, Liz helped infuse historical passions and sensibilities into the Spirit of 1848’s various activities around the politics of public health.

Those who are long-time 1848-ers will recall the Extravaganza held at APHA in 1998 (Washington, DC), titled “150 Years of the Spirit of 1848: An Evening of Politics, Passion, and Public Health.” This marathon 4-hour session included participation of multiple progressive APHA caucuses and sections and the beautiful voices of Rafiki na Dada, and culminated in the singing of the Internationale. Not only did Liz give a stirring talk on “The 1848 Movements for Socialism and Justice,” she corralled the NLM’s costume person into bringing along a half dozen 1848-era outfits—dressing herself in the garb of the time, as well as costuming a fictional Karl Marx and Olympe de Gouges, among others.


Dr. Fee was the recipient of numerous honors, including Kellogg and Fulbright fellowships, the National Library of Medicine Regents Award, the Arthur Viseltear Award from APHA’s Medical Care Section, as well as endowed lectures across the world. Her more than 200 articles and chapters cover topics as diverse as bioterrorism, sin vs. science in the racialized treatment of syphilis in Baltimore, and popularizing the toothbrush, ever posing the question of whether there is anything to learn from history and speaking to both specialists and a broad public of all ages.


Well aware of her critical writings, admirers of Dr. Fee’s work at the Rockefeller Foundation and the World Health Organization (WHO) invited her in the early 2000s to co-chair the history working group of the Joint Learning Initiative, an effort to analyze international public health initiatives during the 20th century and uncover new insights into their successes and failures. This led to her involvement in a series of articles and a forthcoming co-authored monograph (with Marcos Cueto and Ted Brown) examining the vagaries of global health and WHO’s role therein.  Once again, Liz was vital to ensuring that the genre of institutional history would be transformed into a page-turning narrative of contentious politics, personae, and programs spanning WHO’s aspirational post-World War II beginnings, the tensions and turnarounds of the Cold War period, and the embattled contemporary era of private encroachment on WHO turf.


In recent years, despite facing multiple health challenges, Liz continued to write prolifically, particularly short pieces with a wide audience in mind that shed light on often little-known revolutionary figures and movements.


This small snapshot could not possibly capture the scholarly, professional, and personal contributions that Liz made across her lifetime. Without a doubt, the work of Elizabeth Fee, the doyenne of public health historians, will endure and continue to inform the critical progressive work of the many communities of practitioners, activists, politicians, and scholars around the world whose lives Liz touched and whose work she inspired.



–Anne-Emanuelle Birn, for whom Liz was a gem of a comrade, friend, & mentor



*Dr. Fee’s beloved wife and sometime co-author, Mary Garofalo, has asked that donations in honor of Liz be made to the ALS Foundation and to progressive public health causes across the world.


**A further announcement and link will be posted after Dr. Fee’s full bibliography is compiled and placed on the Sigerist Circle website.

Published in: on April 29, 2019 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  

CFP: Gendering Science

Dear Friends,

The Commission on Women and Gender Studies of the Division for History of Science and Technology of the IUHPS calls for papers for the conference Gendering Science: Women and Men Producing Knowledge, which will held in Prague on 4-6 June 2015.

For details, see the web page of the Conference.

We look forward to seeing you in Prague.

Published in: on June 19, 2014 at 10:02 am  Leave a Comment  

New Facebook Page for Women Historians of Health and Medicine

We now have a Facebook page.   Click on the link, then click on “join group” at the top of the page.
Also, to clarify, the WHOHM listserv will continue to function, and we hope that you will make announcements there as well.  We have some members who are not active on Facebook.
Published in: on June 10, 2014 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  

CFP: Reproductive Justice Book Series


Call for Proposals


The new reproductive justice book series from University of California Press will publish works exploring the contours and content of reproductive justice. The series will include primers aimed at students or people new to reproductive justice and books of original research.  Authors are invited to submit proposals that will engage activists, academics, and others. The first primer will be, What is Reproductive Justice? by Rickie Solinger and Loretta Ross. We are now accepting submissions for books featuring original research.


The phrase “reproductive justice” was coined in 1994 to describe an intersectional framework drawing attention to how the right to have a child and the right to parent are as important as the right to not have children. In the two decades since, RJ organizations and scholars have pursued a number of projects that pay close attention to the social, political, and environmental context in which sex, pregnancy, and parenthood are regulated.


The RJ series is interested in original manuscripts that engage reproductive justice within a complex context. Topics could include:

  • abortion
  • assisted reproductive technology
  • birthing options
  • coerced obstetrics
  • criminalization of reproduction
  • drug use and parenting
  • environmental degradation and infertility
  • incarcerated people and reproductive rights
  • population control
  • queering family formation
  • youth parenting


The RJ perspective and movement has provided a contemporary generation of activists and scholars – together with stalwart veterans— new energy.   This is an exciting time to consider the new vision for the 21st century that RJ offers. The editors of the new series are seeking projects that reflect this vision and new energy.




Proposal Submission Procedures

A complete submission to the RJ book series will include 1) a book proposal of no more than 4,000 words, 2) a CV, and 3) one or two published writing samples. Please refer to the UC Press website for general book proposal elements. In addition, note that for book proposals for the RJ series the following items should be included: a market considerations section with discussion of pedagogical applications and innovative marketing ideas and an author biography section that describes previous work including, if relevant, connections with reproductive health, rights and justice organizing. We are not requesting manuscript chapters at this time, although additional information may be requested after initial review of submissions.


The RJ series is affiliated with the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law. Thus, authors of original texts who secure contracts with the RJ book series will have the opportunity to apply for a Visiting Researcher affiliation with CRRJ that includes access to UCB resources such as writing space and library access that assist in completion of the manuscript.


The RJ series editors and advisory board will review submissions and may request additional material before recommendation to UC Press editorial review. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis, but for full consideration in the initial publication cycle, please submit by July 15, 2014. Please email submissions and any questions to all the series editors at rickie@wakeup-arts.com.

Series editors:

Rickie Solinger, Historian (Senior Editor)

Khiara M. Bridges, Anthropology and Law, Boston University (Co-editor)

Zakiya Luna, Sociology, UC Santa Barbara (Co-editor)

Advisory board:

Jill Adams, Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law

Darcy Baxter, Unitarian Universalist Church

Laura Briggs, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Jeanne Flavin, Fordham University/National Advocates for Pregnant Women

Elena Gutiérrez, University of Illinois, Chicago

Lisa Ikemoto, University of California, Davis

Sujatha Jesudason, CoreAlign, UCSF

Laura Jimenez, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice

Kristin Luker, Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law

Chinyere (Julia) Oparah, Mills College/Black Women Birthing Justice

Dorothy Roberts, University of Pennsylvania

Loretta Ross, SisterSong co-founder

Published in: on June 10, 2014 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  

CFP: Book Series on Nursing History


Call for proposals for books in A New Series





Series Editors:  

Julie A. Fairman and Patricia D’Antonio,

Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania


This series features nurses as critical actors in driving social, cultural, professional, and clinical changes while delivering health care. Offering fresh and well-researched approaches to nursing history, books in the series will seek to engage a readership both within and beyond academe. The focus primarily will be on books intended for understanding and teaching the importance of the history of nursing for all students and scholars in health care in and beyond the classroom.


Books in the series will place nurses and nursing within significant contexts to illustrate the professions’ engagement in critical social issues and movements of the last century. In many ways, this perspective will challenge what we already know about this period, as it has typically been seen through the eyes of the history of medicine, science, public health, and technology.


Book proposals must conform to the guidelines of the publisher, the Johns Hopkins University Press (http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/guidelines.html). Queries should be sent to nhistory@nursing.upenn.edu. Final book manuscripts should be no longer than 80,000 to 90,000 words and may include up to twenty illustrations. Books appearing in the series will be published simultaneously in print and electronic editions.



*Julie Fairman

Patricia D’Antonio


Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing


*Primary contact


Published in: on June 10, 2014 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Book Announcements

HI all.


Cheryl Krasnick Warsh co-edited a book WHOM members would be interested in:


Cheryl Krasnick Warsh and Dan Malleck, Consuming Modernity: Gendered Behaviour and Consumerism before the Baby Boom, University of British Columbia Press.


Also, Cheryl has just become the Executive Director of the Western Association of Women Historians, and invite WHOM members to find out about this nifty organization. The annual meetings rotate between Southern California, Northern California and other Western states (and occasionally Western Canada).


Cheryl Krasnick Warsh, PhD

Professor of History

Vancouver Island University

Executive Director, Western Association of Women Historians


900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo, B.C.

V9R 5S5 Canada

Phone:  250-753-3245 x. 2113 (teaching office)

                               x. 2016 (research suite)

Fax:      250-740-6459

E-mail:  cheryl.warsh@viu.ca 


Dear colleagues,

I have been lurking on this list for years, and enjoying the posts. I have a quite late announcement of a book that may be of interest to some list members:

A. Kim Clark, “Gender, State and Medicine in Highland Ecuador: Modernizing Women, Modernizing the State, 1895-1950″ (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012)

Best wishes,

Kim Clark
Professor and Graduate Chair
Department of Anthropology
University of Western Ontario



Published in: on June 10, 2014 at 10:03 am  Leave a Comment  

WHOM book announcments

Dear Colleagues,

A rare mass email from me to deliver the exciting news that my book, Pathologist of the Mind: Adolf Meyer and the Origins of American Psychiatry, will be published soon by Johns Hopkins University Press.


Susan Lamb, PhD.

SSHRC Post-Doctoral Research Fellow


Dear WHOMers,
Because other professional commitments will keep me from AAHM this year, I am using this venue to announce (with great excitement) that my first book, Banking on the Body:  The Market in Blood, Milk and Sperm in Modern America, was published YESTERDAY by Harvard University Press, and should be at the book table at AAHM.  
The press site is below; the amazon link is here
Since I will miss the WHOM breakfast, I would like to use this less personal means to express my gratitude for the support I have received from this group as the project moved from dissertation to book.  Individually and collectively, I have been inspired and pushed by your scholarship, professionalism, and collegiality.  Thank you.
Kara W. Swanson, J.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Northeastern University School of Law
400 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115
(617) 373-8288
Harvard University Press, 2014:

Department of History and Classical Studies
McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Published in: on June 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Job openings at Grand Valley State College

Job 1:

Grand Valley State University Visiting Assistant Professorships, 2014-2015 European, World and Medieval History

The Department of History at Grand Valley State University invites applications for full-time Visiting (non-tenure-track) appointments for the 2014-2015 academic year, with the possibility for renewal, at the rank of Visiting Assistant Professor (or at the rank of Visiting Instructor if ABD). The teaching load of four courses per semester will include surveys in European, World and Medieval History. Grand Valley State University is an affirmative action and equal opportunity institution. The Department is especially interested in qualified candidates who can contribute to the intellectual diversity and excellence of the academic community.

Interested candidates are asked to submit a letter of application, teaching materials (examples include statement of teaching philosophy, syllabi, assignments) and curriculum vitae, followed by three letters of reference and a transcript, to:

Dr. William Morison, Chair

Department of History

Grand Valley State University

MAK D-1-220

Allendale, Michigan 49401-9403.

 Applications will be reviewed until Thursday, May 22.

For further information please call 616-331-3298 or email

Dr. William Morison at morisonw@gvsu.edu.



Job 2:

Grand Valley State University Visiting Assistant Professorships, 2014-2015 World History and/or American History Surveys

The Department of History at Grand Valley State University invites applications for full-time Visiting (non-tenure-track) appointments for the 2014-2015 academic year, with the possibility for renewal, at the rank of Visiting Assistant Professor (or at the rank of Visiting Instructor if ABD). The teaching load of four courses per semester will include surveys in World History and/or American History. Depending on the candidate’s areas of expertise, course assignments could also include one or more of the following courses: History of Science and Research Methods in History. Grand Valley State University is an affirmative action and equal opportunity institution. The Department is especially interested in qualified candidates who can contribute to the intellectual diversity and excellence of the academic community.

Interested candidates are asked to submit a letter of application, teaching materials (examples include statement of teaching philosophy, syllabi, assignments) and curriculum vitae, followed by three letters of reference and a transcript, to:

Dr. William Morison, Chair

Department of History

Grand Valley State University

MAK D-1-220

Allendale, Michigan 49401-9403.


Applications will be reviewed until Thursday, May 22.

For further information please call 616-331-3298 or email

Dr. William Morison at morisonw@gvsu.edu.


Published in: on May 16, 2014 at 10:27 am  Leave a Comment  

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