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Medical Caregiving and Identity in Pennsylvania's Anthracite Region, 1880–2000

By Karol K. Weaver

Publication Year: 2011

Published by: Penn State University Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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p. iii


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p. iv

Table of Contents

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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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p. ix

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p. xi

I want to thank the following people for their professional guidance and assistance: Kathryn Yahner, Janet Lindman, Rachel Batch, Brian Black, Jean Soderlund, and the audiences at the meetings of the Pennsylvania Historical Association and the American Historical Association. I received...

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pp. 1-10

Growing up in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania, I heard stories about my nonna (grandmother) offering medical services to her neighbors. My mom told me that my nonna went “up the bush” to collect greens, which she then boiled into a tea and distributed to neighbors suffering from...

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1. The Anthracite Coal Region

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pp. 12-31

A drive down or walk along the Avenue in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, provides the traveler with a visual history of both the town and the anthracite region of which it is a part. Five churches—four on one side and one on the other—dominate the west end of the thoroughfare. These churches...

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2. Professional Medicine in the Anthracite Coal Region

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pp. 32-56

Miners faced dreadful health dangers above and below ground. In addition, their families fell victim to accidents, epidemics, and common ailments. Company doctors, physicians in private practice, local miners’ hospitals, and benefits associations all provided medical care, especially to male coal...

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3. Mothering Through Medicine: The Neighborhood Women

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pp. 58-79

Company doctors, miners’ hospitals, and benefits associations targeted men and boys as their primary recipients of care. Women and children sought and received medical help elsewhere. Neighborhood women—medical caregivers who offered aid to family members and neighbors—were one of the...

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4. Powwowers and Pennsylvania German Medicine

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pp. 80-97

Complementing the practices of neighborhood women, a Pennsylvania German medical tradition called powwowing also served as an outlet for informal medical assistance. For centuries, Pennsylvania Germans called the anthracite coal region and the farming communities that surrounded it...

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5. Miners, Masculinity, and Medical Self-Help

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pp. 98-121

Like others in the anthracite coal region, miners developed a system of self-help therapies and remedies designed to deal with the physical problems they experienced as a result of their work. Specifically, men employed alcohol, tobacco, and patent medicines to treat wounds, fight the ravages of...

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6. Moving from Traditional Medicine to Biomedicine

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pp. 122-145

Just as the five churches on the Avenue in Mount Carmel are a visible symbol of the anthracite region’s past, the landscape today is key to understanding its present as well as its future. Instead of breakers rising imposingly from the ground, one instead sees tremendous culm banks that feed cogeneration...

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pp. 147-151

In the late nineteenth century and over the course of the twentieth, men, women, and children in the anthracite coal region sought medical care in spaces that were closely aligned to gender, ethnicity, religion, and age. As certain spaces became less significant in American society, as gender roles...


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pp. 153-165


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pp. 167-177

Illustration Credits

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p. 179


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pp. 181-187

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780271052298
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271048789

Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 780533715
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Medical Caregiving and Identity in Pennsylvania's Anthracite Region, 1880–2000

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Subject Headings

  • Coal miners -- Medical care -- Pennsylvania -- History.
  • Medicine -- Pennsylvania -- History -- 20th century.
  • Ethnicity -- Pennsylvania -- History.
  • Medicine -- Pennsylvania -- History -- 19th century.
  • Coal miners -- Pennsylvania -- Social conditions.
  • Traditional medicine -- Pennsylvania -- History.
  • Sex role -- Pennsylvania -- History.
  • Coal mines and mining -- Social aspects -- Pennsylvania -- History.
  • Pennsylvania -- Social conditions.
  • Medical care -- Pennsylvania -- History.
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