Doctoring Freedom: The Politics of African American Medical Care in Slavery and Emancipation

Doctoring Freedom: The Politics of African American Medical Care in Slavery and Emancipation

by Gretchen Long
     
 

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For enslaved and newly freed African Americans, attaining freedom and citizenship without health for themselves and their families would have been an empty victory. Even before emancipation, African Americans recognized that control of their bodies was a critical battleground in their struggle for autonomy, and they devised strategies to retain at least some of that

Overview

For enslaved and newly freed African Americans, attaining freedom and citizenship without health for themselves and their families would have been an empty victory. Even before emancipation, African Americans recognized that control of their bodies was a critical battleground in their struggle for autonomy, and they devised strategies to retain at least some of that control. In Doctoring Freedom, Gretchen Long tells the stories of African Americans who fought for access to both medical care and medical education, showing the important relationship between medical practice and political identity.
Working closely with antebellum medical journals, planters' diaries, agricultural publications, letters from wounded African American soldiers, WPA narratives, and military and Freedmen's Bureau reports, Long traces African Americans' political acts to secure medical care: their organizing mutual-aid societies, their petitions to the federal government, and, as a last resort, their founding of their own medical schools, hospitals, and professional organizations. She also illuminates work of the earliest generation of black physicians, whose adult lives spanned both slavery and freedom. For African Americans, Long argues, claiming rights as both patients and practitioners was a political and highly charged act in both slavery and emancipation.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
[Long] does a good job in telling the story of the newly freed men and women working to build themselves professionally and to care for others.--Journal of Civil War Medicine

An exciting contribution to a growing field of study that embraces the diversity of African American health care experiences and highlights the nuances of historical research on race and health.--Bulletin of the History of Medicine

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807835838
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
10/22/2012
Series:
The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture
Edition description:
1
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.90(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Rich and original. Long addresses an important chronological void in the history of African American health and healing while illuminating the extended arc of African American struggles to achieve dignity, autonomy, and citizenship through medical care.--Sharla M. Fett, Occidental College

A compelling synthesis of the politics of health amidst the promise of freedom. Long's descriptively nuanced investigation of racial and health ideologies from the late antebellum era into the early twentieth century touches on a broad, still resonant question--the place of African Americans in the changing society.--Keith Wailoo, Princeton University

Meet the Author

Gretchen Long is associate professor of history at Williams College.

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