AAHM: Day One

Well, I’m here at the AAHM meeting in Rochester, NY taking a bit of a break from sessions to write something about the first full day of events. I drove here yesterday, hoping to get here in time for the Sigerist Circle panel at 2pm. Unfortunately, I miscalculated (took 6 hours not five!) so missed nearly all of it. From what I heard it was a great session. If anyone reads this and wants to comment, please do so here!

Last night was the opening reception and the sponsors were really generous with the food — including lots of shrimp, oysters, and crab. Stuffed myself as usual. I tried to listen to the opening plenary session on Mind Body Medicine by Anne Harrington. Unfortunately, I was too tired from the driving, and had too much wine at the reception, to focus on the lecture so left after only about 10-15 minutes. What I heard seemed pretty good but rather general for this audience.

This morning’s opening address by John Parascandola was excellelnt. He talked about Rapid Treatment Centers for women infected with VD during WWII. This is part of his forthcoming book on the history of syphilis that will be coming out in the summer. These centers were set up to protect American servicemen from women with “loose morals.” Women with VD were sent to these center for accelerated treatment with Salvarsan, based on the belief that they were unreliable patients who would not complete the full course of treatment to render them non-infectious. It was also interesting to learn that all women who traveled alone were considered suspect — for example, a married woman on her way home from work as a waitress (itself a suspect occupation) was stopped and tested for VD because she ate in a restaurant by herself. I’ll certainly be talking about this anti-VD campaign that targeted women as disease-carriers in my women’s history class next week.

I checked out the book exhibit briefly and once again Michigan has not sent my book for the display! On the other hand, I have a radio gig with an NPR station at the University of Illinois. It’s not syndicated, but you can listen on the web and get it at on a podcast.

Knitting in Meetings

I just read a post about attending faculty meetings over at Tenured Radical. I was glad to see her confirm that it’s okay to knit during meetings, [“knitting is actually a form of listening in my book, although keep the clicking down if you can”] That’s certainly how I made it through seemingly endless faculty senate meetings. Also, there’s a contingent of knitters at AAHM conferences, among others. The general consensus is that it’s not okay to knit while you’re on a panel waiting to present. Otherwise, knit on!

I’ve been attending a lot of meetings lately where it simply isn’t possible to do this — e.g. it would seem rather rude to do this while interviewing candidates for promotion and tenure. This afternoon, I’m off to the state legislature to testify for a bill to provide funding for more full-time faculty in the CSU system. I’m tempted to bring my knitting while I wait to be called but given how things are going this week it might be better to bring the stack of papers that need grading.

AAHM Annual Meeting: Women’s Breakfast

This past weekend I attended the annual meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine in Montreal, Quebec, where I presided over the women’s breakfast and gave a session on using digital history for history of medicine and health sciences.

The women’s breakfast had the largest turnout ever — at least eighty people showed up. Given the size, we dispensed with the traditional round of introductions — instead, attendees shared their accomplishments and professional issues. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to scribble them all down and those I did are illegible, so if you were there and would like to share, post your comments here! We then broke up into informal discussions on particular topics. General issues raised included funding, the job market, and challenges of being an independent scholar.

Since I forgot to ask for a volunteer to organize the breakfast for next year, I’ll be doing it again in Rochester. Please send me ideas for format or topics.