Query: Primary sources on history of women’s health

Dear friends and colleagues:

I need to ask your help with some primary sources.  I just agreed — at the last minute — to teach a senior seminar this coming spring and would like the topic to be women’s health since we are starting a women’s health initiative at Rutgers in the spring of 2013.  The format of the class is such that students are required to work with primary source materials and write a 20 page research paper.  This probably means online since I can’t just assume that students can make it to archives and libraries in NYC or Philadelphia.  Any suggestions for collections?  Collected printed editions will also work.  Any suggestions?  At the moment I will take any topic in women’s health — just want to make sure there is enough out there.  Note, this is not an honors seminar — we are “only” talking about a 20 page paper for history majors.

Thanks for your help.  Best, Johanna

Johanna Schoen
Assoc. Prof.
Department of History
Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research
Rutgers University

Hi Johanna,
By “primary source” are you only counting original documents (or digital facsimiles) and not published primary sources?  I have an extensive list of mostly primary sources that I give as a finding aid to students in my “History of Women in Science and Medicine” class—going back to Antiquity and the Middle Ages (in English translation, of course).  I’ll be glad to send it along.  Can’t guarantee, obviously, that all these items will be available in your library, but it may be helpful as a start.
As for online archives, I’ll let others speak up since they probably have more links readily to hand.  I’ve made frequent use of the “In Their Own Words” archive on AIDS research at the NIH that Victoria Harden put together some years ago:  http://history.nih.gov/nihinownwords/.  There’s more on women in there than you might expect, given how long it took for women to be formally recognized in AIDS epidemiology.  In fact, there’s pretty damning proof there that they recognized women’s susceptibility right from the start.
Monica H. Green
Professor of History
School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies
Box 874302
975 S. Myrtle Ave
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ  85287-4302

Hello! It’s true, I’m in NJ, though so far I haven’t had a chance to explore local archives. (Karen, that list is inspiring!) While I was at Wellesley, though, I taught a class on the history of sex/sexuality/childbirth, and asked students to find on-line sources, preferably freely available, in which they found documents relevant to women’s experiences of sex/sexuality/childbirth. I have a compilation of what the students found, and I can email it to you off-line, as well as the assignments.  (The size limit on messages on WHOM is small enough that I can’t even cut and paste it in without running over.  If anyone else is interested, I’d be happy to also forward the docs to you off of the list.)  I found that asking them to find their own archives was actually very inspiring. When they did the final assignment, in which they worked closely with a single document, they often went back to something they had found themselves.



Dear Johanna,

Here are some digital/online sources that could be useful:
For the history of pregnancy test:   http://www.history.nih.gov/exhibits/thinblueline
For Medicine and Advertisements:   http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/hartman/  (scroll down right side to “Medicine and Madison Avenue” for 600 ads dealing with health issues between 1911 and 1958).
The NIH and FDA have pretty good websites as well.  Good luck with the new course!
Simone Caron
The Wellcome Library http://library.wellcome.ac.uk, is indeed an
excellent resource, and I would draw particular attention to the C17th
domestic recipe and remedy manuscripts which have been digitised and are
freely available online: http://library.wellcome.ac.uk/node9300909.html
Lesley Hall

Published in: on September 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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