Mary Putnam Jacobi and the Politics of Medicine in Nineteenth-Century America

Mary Putnam Jacobi and the Politics of Medicine in Nineteenth-Century America

by Carla Bittel
     
 

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In the late nineteenth century, as Americans debated the "woman question," a battle over the meaning of biology arose in the medical profession. Some medical men claimed that women were naturally weak, that education would make them physically ill, and that women physicians endangered the profession. Mary Putnam Jacobi (1842-1906), a physician from New York, worked

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Overview

In the late nineteenth century, as Americans debated the "woman question," a battle over the meaning of biology arose in the medical profession. Some medical men claimed that women were naturally weak, that education would make them physically ill, and that women physicians endangered the profession. Mary Putnam Jacobi (1842-1906), a physician from New York, worked to prove them wrong and argued that social restrictions, not biology, threatened female health.

Mary Putnam Jacobi and the Politics of Medicine in Nineteenth-Century America is the first full-length biography of Mary Putnam Jacobi, the most significant woman physician of her era and an outspoken advocate for women's rights. Jacobi rose to national prominence in the 1870s and went on to practice medicine, teach, and conduct research for over three decades. She campaigned for co-education, professional opportunities, labor reform, and suffrage—the most important women's rights issues of her day. Downplaying gender differences, she used the laboratory to prove that women were biologically capable of working, learning, and voting. Science, she believed, held the key to promoting and producing gender equality.

Carla Bittel's biography of Jacobi offers a piercing view of the role of science in nineteenth-century women's rights movements and provides historical perspective on continuing debates about gender and science today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
[A] groundbreaking study….Bittel's work stands out for its contextualizing of Jacobi's life….[and] will appeal to a broad range of historians….This highly readable study deserves a wide audience.—The American Historical Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807832837
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/15/2009
Series:
Studies in Social Medicine Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
This is a first-rate study of one of the most important American nineteenth-century medical scientists of either sex, one who tackled an amazing variety of issues concerning gender and who wrote about most of them in an extremely prescient way. A gripping intellectual biography.—Barbara Sicherman, Trinity College

Meet the Author

Carla Bittel is associate professor of history at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

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