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The Fertility Doctor

John Rock and the Reproductive Revolution

Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner

As Louise Brown—the first baby conceived by in vitro fertilization—celebrates her 30th birthday, Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner tell the fascinating story of the man who first showed that human in vitro fertilization was possible. John Rock spent his career studying human reproduction. The first researcher to fertilize a human egg in vitro in the 1940s, he became the nation’s leading figure in the treatment of infertility, his clinic serving rich and poor alike. In the 1950s he joined forces with Gregory Pincus to develop oral contraceptives and in the 1960s enjoyed international celebrity for his promotion of the pill and his campaign to persuade the Catholic Church to accept it. Rock became a more controversial figure by the 1970s, as conservative Christians argued that his embryo studies were immoral and feminist activists contended that he had taken advantage of the clinic patients who had participated in these studies as research subjects. Marsh and Ronner’s nuanced account sheds light on the man behind the brilliant career. They tell the story of a directionless young man, a saloon keeper’s son, who began his working life as a timekeeper on a Guatemalan banana plantation and later became one of the most recognized figures of the twentieth century. They portray his medical practice from the perspective of his patients, who ranged from the wives of laborers to Hollywood film stars. The first scholars to have access to Rock’s personal papers, Marsh and Ronner offer a compelling look at a man whose work defined the reproductive revolution, with its dual developments in contraception and technologically assisted conception.

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Fit to Be Tied

Sterilization and Reproductive Rights in America, 1950-1980

Rebecca M. Kluchin

Fit to Be Tied provides a history of sterilization and what would become, at once, socially divisive and a popular form of birth control. Utilizing first-person narratives, court cases, and official records, Rebecca M. Kluchin examines the evolution of forced sterilization of poor women, especially women of color, in the second half of the century and contrasts it with demands for contraceptive sterilization made by white women and men. She chronicles public acceptance during an era of reproductive and sexual freedom, the shift away from sterilization and how it influenced many aspects of American life.

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Florence Nightingale and Hospital Reform

Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, Volume 16

Florence Nightingale began working on hospital reform even before she founded her famous school of nursing; hospitals were dangerous places for nurses as well as patients, and they urgently needed fundamental reform. She continued to work on safer hospital design, location, and materials to the end of her working life, advising on plans for children’s, general, military, and convalescent hospitals and workhouse infirmaries.

Florence Nightingale and Hospital Reform, the final volume in the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, includes her influential Notes on Hospitals, with its much-quoted musing on the need of a Hippocratic oath for hospitals—namely, that first they should do the sick no harm. Nightingale’s anonymous articles on hospital design are printed here also, as are later encyclopedia entries on hospitals.

Correspondence with architects, engineers, doctors, philanthropists, local notables, and politicians is included. The results of these letters, some with detailed critiques of hospital plans, can be seen initially in the great British examples of the new “pavilion” design—at St. Thomas’, London (a civil hospital), at the Herbert Hospital (military), and later at many hospitals throughout the UK and internationally. Nightingale’s insistence on keeping good statistics to track rates of mortality and hospital stays, and on using them to compare hospitals, can be seen as good advice for today, given the new versions of “hospital-acquired infections” she combatted.

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From Madness to Mental Health

Psychiatric Disorder and Its Treatment in Western Civilization

Edited and with an introduction by Greg Eghigian

In From Madness to Mental Health, Greg Eghigian has compiled a unique anthology of readings, from ancient times to the present, which also includes an updated bibliography of first-person narratives on mental illness compiled by Gail A. Hornstein. This work neither glorifies nor denigrates the contributions of psychiatry, clinical psychology, and psychotherapy, but rather considers how mental disorders have historically challenged the ways in which human beings have understood and valued their bodies, minds, and souls.

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Galen and the Rhetoric of Healing

Susan P. Mattern

Galen is the most important physician of the Roman imperial era. Many of his theories and practices were the basis for medical knowledge for centuries after his death and some practices—like checking a patient’s pulse—are still used today. He also left a vast corpus of writings which makes up a full one-eighth of all surviving ancient Greek literature. Through her readings of hundreds of Galen’s case histories, Susan P. Mattern presents the first systematic investigation of Galen’s clinical practice. Galen’s patient narratives illuminate fascinating interplay among the craft of healing, social class, professional competition, ethnicity, and gender. Mattern describes the public, competitive, and masculine nature of medicine among the urban elite and analyzes the relationship between clinical practice and power in the Roman household. She also finds that although Galen is usually perceived as self-absorbed and self-promoting, his writings reveal him as sensitive to the patient’s history, symptoms, perceptions, and even words. Examining his professional interactions in the context of the world in which he lived and practiced, Galen and the Rhetoric of Healing provides a fresh perspective on a foundational figure in medicine and valuable insight into how doctors thought about their patients and their practice in the ancient world.

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Gender and Medicine in Ireland, 1700-1950

Edited by Margaret Preston and Margaret Ó hÓgartaigh

The essays in this collection examine the intersections between gender, medicine, and conventional economic, political, and social histories in Ireland between 1700 and 1950. Gathering many of the top voices in Irish studies and the history of medicine, the editors cover a range of top­ics including midwifery, mental health, alcoholism, and infant mortality. Composed of thirteen chapters, the volume includes James Kelly’s original analyses of eighteenth-century dental practice and midwifery, placing the Irish experience in an international context. Greta Jones, in an exploration of a disease that affected thousands in Ireland, explains the reasons for higher tuberculosis mortality among women. Several es­says call attention to the attempted containment of disease, exploring the role of asylums and the gendered attitudes toward insanity and reform. Contributors highlight the often neglected impact of nurses and midwives, occupations traditionally dominated by women. Presenting a social history of Irish medicine, the disparate essays are united by several common themes: the inherent danger of life in eigh­teenth- and nineteenth-century Ireland, the specific brutality of women’s lives at the time, and the heroics of several enlightened figures.

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Gene Jockeys

Life Science and the Rise of Biotech Enterprise

Nicolas Rasmussen

The biotech arena emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, when molecular biology, one of the fastest-moving areas of basic science in the twentieth century, met the business world. Gene Jockeys is a detailed study of the biotech projects that led to five of the first ten recombinant DNA drugs to be approved for medical use in the United States: human insulin, human growth hormone, alpha interferon, erythropoietin, and tissue plasminogen activator. Drawing on corporate documents obtained from patent litigation, as well as interviews with the ambitious biologists who called themselves gene jockeys, historian Nicolas Rasmussen chronicles the remarkable, and often secretive, work of venture capitalists, stock market investors, and scientist-entrepreneurs who built a new domain between academia and the drug industry in the pursuit of intellectual rewards and big payouts. In contrast to some who critique the rise of biotechnology, Rasmussen contends that biotech was not a swindle, even if the public did pay a very high price for the development of what began as public scientific resources. Within the biotech enterprise, the work of corporate scientists went well beyond what biologists had already accomplished within universities, and it accelerated the medical use of the new drugs by several years. In his technically detailed but approachable narrative, Rasmussen focuses on the visible and often heavy hands that construct and maintain the markets in public goods like science. He looks closely at how science follows money, and vice versa, as researchers respond to the pressures and potential rewards of commercially viable innovations. In biotechnology, many of those who engaged in crafting markets for genetically engineered drugs were biologists themselves who were in fact trying to do science. This book captures that heady, fleeting moment when a biologist could expect to do great science through the private sector and be rewarded with both wealth and scientific acclaim.

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The Genealogy of a Gene

Patents, HIV/AIDS, and Race

Myles W. Jackson

In The Genealogy of a Gene, Myles Jackson uses the story of the CCR5 gene to investigate the interrelationships among science, technology, and society. Mapping the varied "genealogy" of CCR5 -- intellectual property, natural selection, Big and Small Pharma, human diversity studies, personalized medicine, ancestry studies, and race and genomics -- Jackson links a myriad of diverse topics. The history of CCR5 from the 1990s to the present offers a vivid illustration of how intellectual property law has changed the conduct and content of scientific knowledge, and the social, political, and ethical implications of such a transformation. The CCR5 gene began as a small sequence of DNA, became a patented product of a corporation, and then, when it was found to be an AIDS virus co-receptor with a key role in the immune system, it became part of the biomedical research world -- and a potential moneymaker for the pharmaceutical industry. When it was further discovered that a mutation of the gene found in certain populations conferred near-immunity to the AIDS virus, questions about race and genetics arose. Jackson describes these developments in the context of larger issues, including the rise of "biocapitalism," the patentability of products of nature, the difference between U.S. and European patenting approaches, and the relevance of race and ethnicity to medical research.

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Global Biopolitics of the IUD

How Science Constructs Contraceptive Users and Women's Bodies

Chikako Takeshita

The biography of a multifaceted technological object, the IUD, illuminates how political contexts shaped contraceptive development, marketing, use, and users.

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God—or Gorilla

Images of Evolution in the Jazz Age

Constance Areson Clark

As scholars debate the most appropriate way to teach evolutionary theory, Constance Clark provides an intriguing reflection on similar debates in the not-too-distant past. Set against the backdrop of the Jazz Age, God—or Gorilla explores the efforts of biologists to explain evolution to a confused and conflicted public during the 1920s. Focusing on the use of images and popularization, Clark shows how scientists and anti-evolutionists deployed schematics, cartoons, photographs, sculptures, and paintings to win the battle for public acceptance. She uses representative illustrations and popular media accounts of the struggle to reveal how concepts of evolutionary theory changed as they were presented to, and absorbed into, popular culture. Engagingly written and deftly argued, God—or Gorilla offers original insights into the role of images in communicating—and miscommunicating—scientific ideas to the lay public.

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