No Class 3/15 – Disease Project Revised Due Dates

by Prof. Hangen - March 15th, 2017

With the University closed a second day for snow, we will not meet today (Wed 315) for class. Therefore the Disease Project poster conference will take place on Monday, Mar 27 when we return from spring break, and the Disease Project paper will be due on April 12. The syllabus has been revised to reflect the deadline adjustments and also the highly dynamic situation with health care reform, the topic of our final unit. Have an enjoyable snow day and break week!

Smallpox in America, Vaccine Heroes/Villians (3/13)

by Prof. Hangen - March 13th, 2017

Brandeis history professor Michael Willrich‘s book about smallpox traces the complex interactions between medicine, public health, government and politics in the Progressive Era. We will read this book over several weeks, from March 6 to March 27. Please bring the book to class on the days we’re discussing the assigned chapters.

Keep in mind that the Conference Day for your Disease Project is Wed 3/15 – if we have a cancellation due to snow, we will hold the conference on Monday 3/27 instead and also adjust the paper deadline accordingly. Your poster is due in class and you should be prepared to make a short presentation to your peers about your project on that day. Project guidelines, if you need them, are posted on Blackboard and in the left sidebar on this page.

Mon, March 13: Read Pox, Chapter 4 “War is Health” and 5 “The Stable and the Laboratory”

Some discussion questions to guide your reading and thinking:

  • At the beginning of the 20th century, how was military and American imperial expansion related to the origins, development and transformation of the “sanitary campaigns” in places that the US military had occupied?
  • What were some of the legacies or achievements of those campaigns; at what cost were they achieved?
  • Of what causes did the majority of soldiers die during the War of 1898?
  • (see p. 171) In the fall of 1901, vaccination regulation was controversial. A few months later it was federal law. What happened?
  • Describe the process of vaccine manufacture in the early 1900s under the direction of the state boards of health. (How does it compare with today, by the way?)
  • What were some of the problems with this process, and what were the effects of tainted vaccine?
  • Why is the Biologics Control Act important?

Smallpox in America, Ch 1-3 (week of Mar 6)

by Prof. Hangen - March 3rd, 2017

Brandeis history professor Michael Willrich‘s book about smallpox traces the complex interactions between medicine, public health, government and politics in the Progressive Era. We will read this book over several weeks, from March 6 to March 27. Please bring the book to class on the days we’re discussing the assigned chapters.

Keep in mind that the Conference Day for your Disease Project is Wed 3/15. Your poster is due in class and you should be prepared to make a short presentation to your peers about your project on that day. Project guidelines, if you need them, are posted on Blackboard and in the left sidebar on this page.

Mon, March 6: Read Pox, Prologue “New York, 1900” and Chapter 1 “Beginnings”

Some discussion questions to guide your reading and thinking:

  • Consider the subtitle. How is this an “American history”? Is it, in some way, a history of America itself? Or of the era? Where does Willrich locate the story – in the sick people, or the researchers, or the law, or somewhere else? Why does he begin the story in 1900, when smallpox is already a very old disease?
  • How do race and gender intersect with the story of smallpox outbreaks at the turn of the 20th century?
  • One of Willrich’s claims is that smallpox “sparked one of the most important civil liberties struggles of the twentieth century” (14). This is a surprising claim; why?
  • Explain the difference between smallpox variolation and vaccination.
  • Why didn’t the US go the route of compulsory vaccination laws, as in other developed industrial nations at the time?

Wednesday, March 8: Read Pox, Chapters 2 “The Mild Type” and 3 “Wherever Wertenbaker Went”

Some discussion questions to guide your reading and thinking:

  • How did communities, states and the federal government respond to “mild type” smallpox? Was Middlesboro, Kentucky, typical? What cultural factors made fighting smallpox in the South more challenging in these years?
  • Describe the work of health inspectors like Wertenbaker – what did they do, and not do? What kind of authority (moral, legal, jurisdictional) did they have?
  • What can you learn from these chapters about IDEAS of health and sickness at the time?
  • What do these chapters tell you about how the American health care system developed?

Progressive Era Medicine and Reform

by Prof. Hangen - March 1st, 2017

On your own, enjoy exploring some of these links to give you a flavor for the Progressive Era and the interwoven public health, women’s rights and labor reform movements.

Alice Hamilton (Burnham p. 228-229)

Alice Hamilton and the Development of Occupational Medicine (National Historic Chemical Landmark, American Chemical Society)

Alice Hamilton, Exploring the Dangerous Trades (1943)

Alice Hamilton, Industrial Poisoning in Making Coal-Tar Dyes and Dye Intermediates (1921)

Excerpt from Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906) (handed out in class on Wed Mar 1)

Brandeis Brief in Muller v. Oregon (1908)

Lewis Hine, “Child Labor in the Canning Industry in Maryland” (1909)

National Child Labor Committee Collection (photos of Lewis Hine / Library of Congress)

“Sour Stomachs and Galloping Headaches” (Learn NC Digital History)

Inventing Modern Medicine

by Prof. Hangen - February 21st, 2017

Our next three class sessions all bring us up through the 19th century to the early 20th century in medical / health practices, professionalization, and technological and scientific progress.

For Wed 2/22 Reading: Porter Blood and Guts, Ch 4-5 “The Laboratory” and “Therapies,” and Burnham Health Care in America, Ch 4 “Setting the Stage for Modern Medicine and Health, 1850s-1880s.” Bonus links: Koch’s Postulates; Lydia Pinkham’s Ladies Health Pamphlets; Typhoid Mary

For Mon 2/27 Reading: Porter Blood and Guts, Ch 6-7 “Surgery” and “The Hospital” and Burnham Health Care in America, Ch 5-6 “The Age of Surgery and Germ Theory, 1880s-1910s” and “Physiological Medicine, 1910s to 1930s”

For Wed 3/1 Reading: Burnham Health Care in America, Ch 7 “Physicians, Public Health and Progressivism.” Response #2 is due, posted to the Response Journal on Blackboard by classtime 12:30 pm. Prompt: discuss some of the key changes in medical technology, perception, or practice from the 18th to the early 20th centuries in a 400+ word response. Be specific; quote from our readings; think about which of these changes were most important in the development of “modern” health care. Pro tip: Compose and proofread your response offline, and then cut/paste into the Blackboard platform.

Bonus links: Radium Girls

NOTE: This section of the class contains a lot of reading, obviously. A STRONG suggestion as you go: identify key terms and add them to the class Glossary on Blackboard.

Medical students observe a surgery at Yale Medical School around 1900