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Bulletin of the History of Medicine

Vol. 70 (1996) through current issue

The leading journal in its field for more than three quarters of a century, the Bulletin is the official publication of the American Association for the History of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Institute of the History of Medicine. Each issue spans the social, cultural, and scientific aspects of the history of medicine worldwide and includes reviews of recent books on medical history.

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The Burdens of Disease

Epidemics and Human Response in Western History, Revised Edition

J.N. Hays

In this updated edition of The Burdens of Disease, with revisions and additions to the original content, including the evolution of drug-resistant diseases and expanded coverage of HIV/AIDS, along with recent data on mortality figures and other relevant statistics, J. N. Hays chronicles perceptions and responses to plague and pestilence over two thousand years of western history. Disease is framed as a multidimensional construct, situated at the intersection of history, politics, culture, and medicine, and rooted in mentalities and social relations as much as in biological conditions of pathology.

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The Business of Private Medical Practice

Doctors, Specialization, and Urban Change in Philadelphia, 1900-1940

by James A. Schafer Jr.

Unevenly distributed resources and rising costs have become enduring problems in the American health care system. Health care is more expensive in the United States than in other wealthy nations, and access varies significantly across space and social classes. James A. Schafer Jr. shows that these problems are not inevitable features of modern medicine, but instead reflect the informal organization of health care in a free market system in which profit and demand, rather than social welfare and public health needs, direct the distribution and cost of crucial resources.The Business of Private Medical Practice is a case study of how market forces influenced the office locations and career paths of doctors in one early twentieth-century city, Philadelphia, the birthplace of American medicine. Without financial incentives to locate in poor neighborhoods, Philadelphia doctors instead clustered in central business districts and wealthy suburbs. In order to differentiate their services in a competitive marketplace, they also began to limit their practices to particular specialties, thereby further restricting access to primary care. Such trends worsened with ongoing urbanization.Illustrated with numerous maps of the Philadelphia neighborhoods he studies, Schafer’s work helps underscore the role of economic self-interest in shaping the geography of private medical practice and the growth of medical specialization in the United States.

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A Century of Eugenics in America

From the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Era

Edited by Paul A. Lombardo

In 1907, Indiana passed the world's first involuntary sterilization law based on the theory of eugenics. In time, more than 30 states and a dozen foreign countries followed suit. Although the Indiana statute was later declared unconstitutional, other laws restricting immigration and regulating marriage on "eugenic" grounds were still in effect in the U.S. as late as the 1970s. A Century of Eugenics in America assesses the history of eugenics in the United States and its status in the age of the Human Genome Project. The essays explore the early support of compulsory sterilization by doctors and legislators; the implementation of eugenic schemes in Indiana, Georgia, California, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Alabama; the legal and social challenges to sterilization; and the prospects for a eugenics movement basing its claims on modern genetic science.

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Charcot in Morocco

Jean-Martin Charcot

Charcot in Morocco is the first-ever publication of Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot’s travel diary of his 1887 trip to Morocco. Considered the father of neuropathology, Charcot (1825–1893) is a seminal character in the history of neurology and psychology. His Moroccan travel diary includes his “objective” observations of the local Jewish community, which only fortified his assumptions about the relationship between race and neuropathology. These became a conspicuous feature of his ideas about the hereditary origins of nervous ailments. His ideas – taught as doctrine to a vast audience, including a young Sigmund Freud – reveal the convergence of clinical observation and European anti-Semitism at the end of the nineteenth century.

Including an enlightening critical introduction by renowned Charcot expert Toby Gelfand, Charcot in Morocco provides new insights into the personality of this influential figure and his perspectives on the “Orient” and its inhabitants.

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Children’s Health Issues in Historical Perspective

From sentimental stories about polio to the latest cherub in hospital commercials, sick children tug at the public’s heartstrings. However sick children have not always had adequate medical care or protection. The essays in Children’s Issues in Historical Perspective investigate the identification, prevention, and treatment of childhood diseases from the 1800s onwards, in areas ranging from French-colonial Vietnam to nineteenth-century northern British Columbia, from New Zealand fresh air camps to American health fairs.

Themes include: the role of government and/or the private sector in initiating and underwriting child public health programs; the growth of the profession of pediatrics and its views on “proper” mothering techniques; the role of nationalism, as well as ethnic and racial dimensions in child-saving movements; normative behaviour, social control, and the treatment of “deviant” children and adolescents; poverty, wealth, and child health measures; and the development of the modern children’s hospital.

This liberally illustrated collection reflects the growing academic interest in all aspects of childhood, especially child health, and originates from health care professionals and scholars across the disciplines. An introduction by the editors places the historical themes in context and offers an overview of the contemporary study of children’s health.

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Communities of Learned Experience

Epistolary Medicine in the Renaissance

Nancy G. Siraisi

During the Renaissance, collections of letters both satisfied humanist enthusiasm for ancient literary forms and provided the flexibility of a format appropriate to many types of inquiry. The printed collections of medical letters by Giovanni Manardo of Ferrara and other physicians in early sixteenth-century Europe may thus be regarded as products of medical humanism. The letters of mid- and late sixteenth-century Italian and German physicians examined in Communities of Learned Experience by Nancy G. Siraisi also illustrate practices associated with the concepts of the Republic of Letters: open and relatively informal communication among a learned community and a liberal exchange of information and ideas. Additionally, such published medical correspondence may often have served to provide mutual reinforcement of professional reputation. Siraisi uses some of these collections to compare approaches to sharing medical knowledge across broad regions of Europe and within a city, with the goal of illuminating geographic differences as well as diversity within social, urban, courtly, and academic environments of medical learning and practice. The collections she has selected include essays on general medical topics addressed to colleagues or disciples, some advice for individual patients (usually written at the request of the patient’s doctor), and a strong dose of controversy.

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Condom Nation

The U.S. Government's Sex Education Campaign from World War I to the Internet

Alexandra M. Lord

This history of the U.S. Public Health Service's efforts to educate Americans about sex makes clear why federally funded sex education has been haphazard, ad hoc, and often ineffectual. Since launching its first sex ed program during World War I, the Public Health Service has dominated federal sex education efforts. Alexandra M. Lord draws on medical research, news reports, the expansive records of the Public Health Service, and interviews with former surgeons general to examine these efforts, from early initiatives through the administration of George W. Bush. Giving equal voice to many groups in America—middle class, working class, black, white, urban, rural, Christian and non-Christian, scientist and theologian—Lord explores how federal officials struggled to create sex education programs that balanced cultural and public health concerns. She details how the Public Health Service left an indelible mark on federally and privately funded sex education programs through partnerships and initiatives with community organizations, public schools, foundations, corporations, and religious groups. In the process, Lord explains how tensions among these organizations and local, state, and federal officials often exacerbated existing controversies about sexual behavior. She also discusses why the Public Health Service's promotional tactics sometimes inadvertently fueled public fears about the federal government’s goals in promoting, or not promoting, sex education. This thoroughly documented and compelling history of the U.S. Public Health Service's involvement in sex education provides new insights into one of the most contested subjects in America.

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The Contagious City

The Politics of Public Health in Early Philadelphia

by Simon Finger

By the time William Penn was planning the colony that would come to be called Pennsylvania, with Philadelphia at its heart, Europeans on both sides of the ocean had long experience with the hazards of city life, disease the most terrifying among them. Drawing from those experiences, colonists hoped to create new urban forms that combined the commercial advantages of a seaport with the health benefits of the country. The Contagious City details how early Americans struggled to preserve their collective health against both the strange new perils of the colonial environment and the familiar dangers of the traditional city, through a period of profound transformation in both politics and medicine.

Philadelphia was the paramount example of this reforming tendency. Tracing the city's history from its founding on the banks of the Delaware River in 1682 to the yellow fever outbreak of 1793, Simon Finger emphasizes the importance of public health and population control in decisions made by the city's planners and leaders. He also shows that key figures in the city's history, including Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush, brought their keen interest in science and medicine into the political sphere. Throughout his account, Finger makes clear that medicine and politics were inextricably linked, and that both undergirded the debates over such crucial concerns as the city's location, its urban plan, its immigration policy, and its creation of institutions of public safety. In framing the history of Philadelphia through the imperatives of public health, The Contagious City offers a bold new vision of the urban history of colonial America.

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Covenant of Care

Newark Beth Israel and the Jewish Hospital in America

Alan M. Kraut and Deborah A Kraut

Where were you born? Were you born at the Beth? Many thousands of Americans-Jewish and non-Jewish-were born at a hospital bearing the Star of David and named Beth Israel, Mount Sinai, or Montefiore. In the United States, health care has been bound closely to the religious impulse. Newark Beth Israel Hospital is a distinguished modern medical institution in New Jersey whose history opens a window on American health care, the immigrant experience, and urban life. Alan M. and Deborah A. Kraut tell the story of this important institution, illuminating the broader history of voluntary nonprofit hospitals created under religious auspices initially to serve poor immigrant communities. Like so many Jewish hospitals in the early half of the twentieth century, "the Beth" cared not only for its own community's poor and underprivileged, a responsibility grounded in the Jewish traditions of tzedakah ("justice") and tikkun olam ("to heal the world"), but for all Newarkers.

Since it first opened its doors in 1902, the Beth has been an engine of social change. Jewish women activists and immigrant physicians founded an institution with a nonsectarian admissions policy and a welcome mat for physicians and nurses seeking opportunity denied them by anti-Semitism elsewhere. Research, too, flourished at the Beth. Here dedicated medical detectives did path-breaking research on the Rh blood factor and pacemaker development. When economic shortfalls and the Great Depression threatened the Beth's existence, philanthropic contributions from prominent Newark Jews such as Louis Bamberger and Felix Fuld, the efforts of women volunteers, and, later, income from well-insured patients saved the institution that had become the pride of the Jewish community.

The Krauts tell the Beth Israel story against the backdrop of twentieth-century medical progress, Newark's tumultuous history, and the broader social and demographic changes altering the landscape of American cities. Today, the United States, in the midst of another great wave of immigration, once again faces the question of how to provide newcomers with culturally sensitive and economically accessible medical care. Covenant of Care will inform and inspire all those working to meet these demands, offering a compelling look at the creative ways that voluntary hospitals navigated similar challenges throughout the twentieth century.



 

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