Spirometry -- Great Britain -- History -- 19th century.
Spirometry -- Social aspects -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
Lungs -- Examination -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
Medical anthropology -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
Race correction is a common practice in contemporary pulmonary medicine that involves mathematical adjustment of lung capacity measurements in populations designated as "black" using standards derived largely from populations designated as "white." This article traces the history of the racialization and gendering of spirometry through an examination of the ideas and practices related to lung capacity measurements that circulated between Britain and the United States in the nineteenth century. Lung capacity was first conceptualized as a discrete entity of potential use in the diagnosis of pulmonary disease and monitoring of the vitality of the armed forces and other public servants in spirometric studies conducted in mid-nineteenth-century Britain. The spirometer was then imported to the United States and used to measure the capacity of the lungs in a large study of black and white soldiers in the Union Army sponsored by the U.S. Sanitary Commission at the end of the Civil War. Despite contrary findings and contestation by leading black intellectuals, the notion of mean differences between racial groups in the capacity of the lungs became deeply entrenched in the popular and scientific imagination in the nineteenth century, leaving unexamined both the racial categories deployed to organize data and the conditions of life that shape lung function.
vital capacity, race, spirometry, John Hutchinson, Benjamin A. Gould, Frederick Hoffman, U.S. Sanitary Commission.
American Medical Association -- Membership -- History -- 19th century.
Sex discrimination -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
Race discrimination -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
In May 1870 the American Medical Association (AMA) voted to deny the admission of black delegates and their white colleagues to the national meeting in Washington, D.C. Historians of race and medicine have customarily viewed this decision as marking a crucial milestone in the formation of the nexus between racism and the development of the American medical profession in the era after the Civil War (1861-64). This study recasts this narrative by locating the 1870 decision in relation to the antebellum practices of the association and their social consequences for American medicine. It argues that the viability of the AMA as the national voice of the profession was critically dependent on rejecting racial equality. Indeed, at a moment when the question of the abolition of slavery polarized the nation, the AMA was founded in 1847 to create a voluntary professional organization, national in scope, dedicated to raising the standards of medical training and practice. To this end, the AMA elected presidents and selected host cities for annual meetings in the North, South, and West. Seven out of the fourteen meetings and six out of fourteen presidents were from slave and/or border states. These institutional practices together with the representation of blacks as different and enjoying an appropriate status as slaves grounded the national identity of the profession in black subordination. Similarly, the gendered discourses about healing and practices of female exclusion privileged medical authority as male by drawing on and reinforcing patriarchy. In the wake of the war, leaders hoped to restore the national character of the organization by resuming antebellum practices. In response to the new possibilities for blacks in medicine—as represented by the biracial National Medical Society—the AMA took steps to vigorously police the racial boundaries of the national profession. As this study will show, the 1870 decision reflected the logic of the racial politics at the heart of the association's antebellum past and would loom large in its future.
reform, slavery, white privilege, professional identity, American Medical Association, male privilege, patriarchy, Reconstruction, the Confederacy.
Quarantine -- Australia -- History -- 19th century.
Medical policy -- Australia -- History -- 19th century.
In many respects the Australian colonies were what one person called "the proud offspring of a grand old mother." Yet when it came to the prevention of imported infectious disease, Britain's Australian colonies were not a chip off the old block. British opposition to the lengthy and costly imposition of quarantine had intensified throughout the nineteenth century, eventuating in the abolition of human quarantine in 1896. The Australian colonies, on the other hand, which had based their first quarantine regulations on British law and remained constantly aware of changing medical trends in the mother country, gradually expanded the breadth and capabilities of their maritime quarantine as the century progressed. Although other European powers and British colonies progressively adopted systems of medical inspection more in line with British port prophylaxis and away from quarantine, the Australian colonies invested increasing amounts of time and money into more elaborate quarantine stations and regulations. In this article I examine some of the basic features of coastal disease prevention in the Australian colonies and how they differed from British controls. Australia's distance from Britain was emphasized in the quarantine debates geographically as well as in policy. I argue that the often controversial differences in quarantine policy were for the most part a product of Australia's geographical location. The natural prophylactic of Australia's remoteness was not a reason to minimize quarantine in the colonies but rather served to increase it; whereas, it was argued that "the geographical position of England deprived it of the advantages . . . derived from a comprehensive quarantine system." I discuss this seeming anomaly in light of other arguments that have claimed that the close proximity of a state to the acknowledged origin of a disease was likely to increase its eagerness to quarantine.
Australia, Britain, quarantine, Port Sanitary Authorities, infectious disease, public health, vaccination, sanitation.