Chains of Freedom: The Bicycle’s Impact on 1890s Britain.

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Heather Munro Prescott:

The value of cycling – especially for middle-aged women like myself!

Originally posted on The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates:

Will is an MA student at the University of York. His dissertation studies how moving through the life cycle altered the masculinities constructed by middle-class cyclists, and the appeal of inter-generational mixing within cycling clubs. Further information on the weird and wonderful effects the bicycle had on late Victorian society can be found on his blog ‘The Victorian Cyclist’ ( and its Twitter feed (@theviccyclist).

It is now ten years since listeners of Radio 4’s You and Yours were asked to vote on what they thought to be the most significant innovation since 1800. The list of inventions was, to say the least, impressive – their share of the votes, perhaps less so. Three percent of voters thought that the internal combustion engine was worthy of the title. The Internet fared slightly better, receiving four percent of nominations. A dizzying five percent of people believed that the germ…

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Sunday Morning Medicine

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Save the Date: #AAHM2015 Panel on #Reproductiverights after Griswold: A Fifty Year Retrospective


American Association for the History of Medicine

April 30, 2015, Ballroom, New Haven Omni Hotel, 5-7 p.m.


Barbara Sicherman is William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor Emerita, Trinity College, where she taught History, American Studies, and Women’s Studies. Her publications include: Well-Read Lives: How Books Inspired a Generation of American Women (2010) Alice Hamilton: A Life in Letters (1984), Notable American Women: The Modern Period (1980), and The Quest for Mental Health in America, 1880-1917 (1980). She is currently doing research on the illegal birth control clinics established in Connecticut in the 1930s, a follow up to “’Let’s Do It’: Women Making History in the Land of Steady Habits,” Connecticut History.(Spring 2012).

Introduction: I will set the stage by briefly summing up the Connecticut law prohibiting the use of contraceptives and Planned Parenthood’s efforts to overturn it, which culminated in the landmark Griswold decision.

  1. Rosemary A. Stevens is DeWitt Wallace Distinguished Scholar in Social Medicine and Public Policy at Weill Cornell Medical College, Department of Psychiatry, and the Stanley I. Sheerr Professor Emeritus in Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. For the last few years she has been studying the services negotiated for US veterans after World War I and their associated politics, a great set of stories. The resulting book manuscript, Scandal Time, is almost done.

Being There

This is a personal history for me, because I was the witness testifying against the physician, Dr. C. Lee Buxton, at the trial in New Haven. Estelle Griswold was the activist social worker who initiated the campaign to overturn the ban on contraception in Connecticut. Buxton wrote the prescriptions which when used broke the law. I will describe the contentious atmosphere at the time, how I came to be involved and what happened; with brief comments on the case as history.

  1. Professor Reva Siegel is Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Professor Siegel’s writing draws on legal history to explore questions of law and inequality and to analyze how courts interact with representative government and popular movements in interpreting the Constitution. Her recent publications include Conscience Wars: Complicity-Based Conscience Claims in Religion and Politics, 124 Yale L.J. (forthcoming 2015) (with Doug NeJaime); Harris Lecture: Abortion and the “Woman Question”: Forty Years of Debate, 89 Ind. L.J. 1365 (2014), as well as Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking (with Paul Brest, Sanford Levinson, Jack M. Balkin & Akhil Reed Amar, 2014); Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling (with Linda Greenhouse, 2012); and The Constitution in 2020 (edited with Jack M. Balkin, 2009). Professor Siegel is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an honorary fellow of the American Society for Legal History, and serves on the board of the American Constitution Society and on the General Council of the International Society of Public Law.

TALK: Reva proposes briefly to discuss the debates that engendered Griswold and the cases that followed in its wake; she will then consider how the culture wars of the 1980s shaped modern understandings of Griswold and its progeny, concluding with current conflicts over religious objections to contraception and over the right of same-sex couples to marry.

  1. Linda Greenhouse is Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. Prior to coming to Yale in 2009, she spent 30 years as the Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times. In that capacity, she received a Pulitzer Prize and other journalism awards. She is the author of Becoming Justice Blackmun, a biography of the justice who wrote Roe v. Wade; The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction; and with Reva Siegel, Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling. She is a vice president of the American Philosophical Society; a member of the Council of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences; a national board member of the American Constitution Society; and will shortly complete a six-year term as a member of the Harvard University Board of Overseers.

TALK: Linda will talk more specifically about Roe v. Wade as Griswold’s progeny and to show how the one crucially informed the other at a time when the sex equality claim for a right to abortion was not a plausible option for a Supreme Court that had not yet established a jurisprudence of sexual equality

  1. Heather Munro Prescott is Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University. She has written extensively on the history of birth control and reproductive health issues, and is the author of The Morning-After: A History of Emergency Contraception in the United States. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011

TALK: Heather will look at the Griswold decision in light of her work on adolescent and young adult health. The Griswold decision only involved the right to marital privacy but said nothing about the rights of unmarried individuals. Nevertheless, many college students believed access to contraception was a right that was due to them and campaigned for reproductive health services. She will examine the partnership between students organizations and Planned Parenthood’s Program of Student Community Action that paved the way for unmarried minors’ access to contraception and abortion.


  1. JUDY TABAR is the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE), which serves Connecticut and Rhode Island. Prior to a 2009 merger with Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island, Judy was the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, serving in that role since January 1997. PPSNE is a two-state affiliate with a budget of $30 million, serving over 70,000 patients at 18 health centers.

Judy joined Planned Parenthood in 1980 as a physician assistant providing direct patient care. She then went on to become the Associate Director of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England prior to moving to Connecticut. Judy has served in numerous leadership roles within the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), including co-chair of the Leadership and Diversity Task Force, Affiliate Chief Executives Council (ACEC) Chair, ACEC Treasurer, and board member of the Affiliate Risk Management Services and Planned Protection Insurance Company. She currently serves on the Planned Parenthood Federation of America National Board and chairs the Business Innovations Committee.

During her tenure, the affiliate has received a number of awards. These include PPFA Excellence Awards in Clinical Services Expansion, Board Development, Special Efforts Serving Teens, and Clinical Training, as well as the Stand Up for Choice Award from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Eastern Region Pepe Award for Excellence in Serving Diverse Communities, and the Ruth Mott Rawlings Mott Award for International Excellence. In 2007, Judy was the recipient of the Ruth Green Award, in recognition of her leadership excellence as a CEO.

Judy holds degrees from the University of Iowa in science and psychology, and is a physician assistant.

TALK: Access to contraceptives during the 50 years since Griswold has made a dramatic impact on the lives of women, men and families across our country. Judy will speak about the link between reducing unintended pregnancies and a whole host of positive effects for women and men, from improved health outcomes for women and their babies to expanded educational and career options for women and their partners when they use contraceptives to delay childbearing until the time is right for them. She will also discuss the evolution of the contraceptive methods available to women over the years, and note some of the challenges that we are still struggling to overcome, such as recent public policy debates to limit contraceptive access and the persistent racial and ethnic health disparities that exist in relation to reproductive health outcomes.


How-to Write Women Back Into History

Heather Munro Prescott:


My graduate students in digital history and I are organizing our campus’ first ever Women’s History Wikipedia edit-athon on March 11th, 4:30 in the History Lab (Social Science Hall 201). If you have the time, please stop by.

Originally posted on HIST 511: Digital History Theory & Practice:

In preparation for our Women’s History Wikipedia edit-a-thon on March 11, please check out this article and these instructional videos by  Michelle Moravec:


How to evaluate a Wikipedia entry:


How to improve entries about women

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Clio Goes to the Movies: “Selma” in History

Heather Munro Prescott:

Excellent discussion of the historiographical issues raised by the film “Selma”

Originally posted on Nursing Clio:

Ava DuVernay’s Selma has sparked a robust discussion about the civil rights movement, memory, and the filmmaker’s role in creating “accurate” and teachable history. The film has garnered much pointed criticism for “artful falsehood,” “distorting” history, and “villainizing” Lyndon Johnson. The problems with these assertions are threefold. First, deploying terms like distortion and villainizing does not reflect a willingness to engage issues of history, memory, and mythmaking in good faith; those are words that seek to discredit the film and the director’s interpretation of the event. Second, as the New Yorker’s Amy Davidson illustrates, these critiques of the film belie the historical record. Finally, the ballyhoo around Lyndon Johnson misses the point, and it pushes us away from analyzing the film in a manner that accounts for the broader historical context and historiography.

Selma is consistent with the first generation of civil rights scholarship. Historian Steven Lawson explains…

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Vagina Dialogues

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Originally posted on Nursing Clio:

Students at Mt. Holyoke College are protesting the annual performance of Eve Ensler’s feminist classic, The Vagina Monologues. Their gripe with the play is that by focusing on vaginas, the play perpetuates “vagina essentialism,” suggesting that ALL women have vaginas and that ALL people with vaginas are women. Transgender and intersex people have taught us that this seemingly simple “truth” is actually not true. There are women who have penises and there are men who have vaginas. Not to mention women born without vaginas! Hence, these Mt. Holyoke critics imply, the play contributes to the erasure of difference by presenting a “narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman,” and shouldn’t be produced on college campuses.

Vagina Monologues cover

Let’s keep in mind that Ensler would have had to be psychic to anticipate the explosion in trans and intersex awareness when the play premiered in 1996. And in 2005 she did…

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Deadly Effects: Epidemics, Vaccines, and the Measles Outbreak

Heather Munro Prescott:

Good read from the Dittrick Medical History Museum

Originally posted on Dittrick Museum:

The recent outbreak  of measles at Disneyland has spurred a rash of competing newscast, blog posts, and social media responses. One question continues to be foremost–as quoted by CNN correspondent Mariano Castillo, “how bad is it?” Castillo reminds the reader: “to call the news surrounding vaccinations a “debate” is misleading. The scientific and medical consensus is clear: Vaccinations are safe, and they work.” [1] The question is not about efficacy but about consequences; parents may have a variety of reasons for not vaccinating their children, sometimes on the grounds of safety or mistrust of the vaccine. However, as pointed out by members of the CDC and others, those who do not vaccinate live in the same communities as those who do; what happens if measles once more establishes a foothold? What might be at stake? History can provide useful parallels–especially the history of how vaccines were first administered and why.

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