Lost: Miscarriage in Nineteenth-Century America

I am currently completing the book manuscript for this project. It centers around the close reading of personal descriptions of miscarriage by American women between 1830 and 1900. With each story, I also weave together medical understandings of the phenomenon with social anxieties about reproduction and women’s bodies. In the book, I reveal that in an era of increasing restrictions placed upon women’s lives and their bodies, especially in terms of their reproductive control, miscarriage became a refuge for many women. In turn, due to the scientific interests by American doctors in the material results of miscarriage, the medical community also gained much from a benign attitude toward miscarriage. The differing, but complementary motivations of these two groups — reproducing women and regular doctors — shaped nineteenth-century miscarriage into a common event open for individual interpretation.

Internal Affairs: The Development of Prenatal Health Care in the U.S.

This project investigates the multiple social, medical, and scientific forces that contributed to the creation of prenatal health care in the U.S. This development was not solely the product of public health movements or government bodies such as the Children’s Bureau, but was also spurred on my the still-nascent field of embryology, public concern over infant mortality (especially its links to race and class), as well as women’s suffragist movements. I examine how scientists, female activists, public health workers, doctors, nurses, and pregnant women all worked together to shape the public interest in and concern for the fetus. As with my miscarriage project, this one will focus on the corporeality of pregnancy, and the shifts within that in the early twentieth century.