Midwifery and Medicine in Boston: Walter Channing, M.D., 1786-1876

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A prominent obstetrician, professor of midwifery and medical jurisprudence, and dean of the faculty at Harvard Medical College, Dr. Walter Channing (1786-1876) was a central figure in Boston's medical community for more than fifty years. He was also an important presence in the lives of countless women who relied on him to provide safe pregnancy and childbirth, care for postpartum disorders, and treat gynecological problems. Known for his medical expertise as well as his compassion and concern, Channing was ...
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Overview

A prominent obstetrician, professor of midwifery and medical jurisprudence, and dean of the faculty at Harvard Medical College, Dr. Walter Channing (1786-1876) was a central figure in Boston's medical community for more than fifty years. He was also an important presence in the lives of countless women who relied on him to provide safe pregnancy and childbirth, care for postpartum disorders, and treat gynecological problems. Known for his medical expertise as well as his compassion and concern, Channing was highly regarded by colleagues and patients alike.

This well-crafted biography rescues the remarkable but overlooked physician from obscurity. Channing's private and professional experiences mirror dramatic changes in antebellum Boston, and Amalie M. Kass provides both a rich picture of a multi-faceted man and a vivid depiction of his city's rapidly changing social, political, and economic landscape. She examines Channing's obstetrical practice and charts his many other distinguished pursuits -- lecturer to hundreds of young men in "the art of midwifery," consultant to doctors throughout New England, staff physician for nearly two decades at Boston's only general hospital, and editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery. In addition, Channing was a major force in gaining acceptance for the use of anesthesia in childbirth, played an instrumental role in founding the Boston Lying-In Hospital as a refuge for women who would otherwise lack decent obstetrical care, and was an active champion for the social reform movements of his day.

Kass's account also reveals the complexities and contradictions in Channing's life story. A cheerful and witty personality made him a favorite among his circle of friends and colleagues in Boston's cultural and intellectual elite, yet his outward sociability masked an almost unbearable inner sadness caused by family tragedies and disappointments. In a biography as distinctive as the unique man it portrays, Kass provides illuminating perspectives on medicine, society, and women's reproductive lives in nineteenth-century America.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555535018
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 12/7/2001
  • Pages: 386
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xi
Chronology xiv
The Channing Family Tree xvi
Prologue 3
Chapter 1 Youth 5
Chapter 2 Medical Studies 21
Chapter 3 Launching a Career, 1811-1822 44
Chapter 4 Obstetrical Practice 69
Chapter 5 The Hospitals 93
Chapter 6 The Education of Physicians 114
Chapter 7 The Middle Years, 1822-1840 133
Chapter 8 Puerperal Fever 156
Chapter 9 Obstetrical Anesthesia 168
Chapter 10 Social Reform 187
Chapter 11 "Action of a Man's Whole Nature," 1840-1854 211
Chapter 12 The Medical Profession at Mid-Century 234
Chapter 13 Retirement and Repose 256
Notes 279
Selected Bibliography 365
Walter Channing Bibliography 375
Index 379
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