The Empty Cradle: Infertility in America from Colonial Times to the Present

The Empty Cradle: Infertility in America from Colonial Times to the Present

by Margaret Marsh, Wanda Ronner
     
 

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In The Empty Cradle, Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner delve into the origins of the many misconceptions surrounding infertility as they explore how medical and cultural beliefs emerged throughout its controversial history. Drawing on a wide variety of sources—including intimate diaries and letters, patient records, memoirs, medical literature, and

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Overview

In The Empty Cradle, Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner delve into the origins of the many misconceptions surrounding infertility as they explore how medical and cultural beliefs emerged throughout its controversial history. Drawing on a wide variety of sources—including intimate diaries and letters, patient records, memoirs, medical literature, and popular magazines— The Empty Cradle investigates the social, cultural, scientific, and medical dimensions of infertility over the past three hundred years.

Marsh and Ronner explore reactions—among both physicians and husbands—to the emerging scientific evidence that infertility was a condition for which men and women bear equal responsibility. The book concludes that infertility is still a subject affected by myth and misunderstanding. A lively and compelling history of a complex medical and cultural phenomenon, The Empty Cradle brings a valuable perspective to current debates about how we should think about and address the experience of infertility in our own time.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A gynecologist and a cultural historian trace the changes in the way people have understood infertility over the past three hundred years, drawing on sources including diary entries, letters, patient records, medical literature, and popular magazines. They also examine emerging scientific evidence that infertility is equal among men and women and the fact that infertility rates have remained surprising consistent for more than a century. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Rima D. Apple
Marsh and Ronner have sought to go beyond the published medical literature to disclose the voices of those most affected by the physiological and cultural condition of infertility...they have restored to the historical record the anguish and the hopes of women who expereienced infertility. -- American Historical Review, The Henry E. Sigerist Series in the History of Medicine
Journal of the Social History of Medicine
[Marsh and Ronner make for a] highly successful combination in which faultless clinical detail and a broad social and cultural approach are seamlessly woven to produce a very impressive and beautifully written historical work of the first importance.

— Irvine Louden

American Historical Review
Marsh and Ronner have sought to go beyond the published medical literature to disclose the voices of those most affected by the physiological and cultural condition of infertility... they have restored to the historical record the anguish and the hopes of women who experienced infertility.

— Rima D. Apple

Journal of the American Medical Association
The book's lucid explanations of medical terms and procedures will allow me to recommend it to my infertility patients. I plan to do so, trusting that it will give them a new perspective on their predicament. Knowing that it provided me a new perspective on both infertility and the practice of gynecology, I will also assign it an honored place in my medical library.

— Janet E. Shepherd, M.D.

Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Demonstrates the profound impact of politics as well as culture on the development of medical practice. It is an excellent model for future scholarship on the complex relationship between science and society.

— Elaine Tyler May

Journal of the Social History of Medicine - Irvine Louden

[Marsh and Ronner make for a] highly successful combination in which faultless clinical detail and a broad social and cultural approach are seamlessly woven to produce a very impressive and beautifully written historical work of the first importance.

American Historical Review - Rima D. Apple

Marsh and Ronner have sought to go beyond the published medical literature to disclose the voices of those most affected by the physiological and cultural condition of infertility... they have restored to the historical record the anguish and the hopes of women who experienced infertility.

Journal of the American Medical Association - Janet E. Shepherd

The book's lucid explanations of medical terms and procedures will allow me to recommend it to my infertility patients. I plan to do so, trusting that it will give them a new perspective on their predicament. Knowing that it provided me a new perspective on both infertility and the practice of gynecology, I will also assign it an honored place in my medical library.

Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences - Elaine Tyler May

Demonstrates the profound impact of politics as well as culture on the development of medical practice. It is an excellent model for future scholarship on the complex relationship between science and society.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801852282
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
02/01/1996
Series:
The Henry E. Sigerist Series in the History of Medicine
Pages:
326
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.33(h) x 1.09(d)

What People are saying about this

Janet GoldenRutgers UniversityCamden

The Empty Cradle brilliantly illuminates how American families and physicians struggled with infertility and responded to the shifting scientific and cultural meaning of procreation. It is a beautifully written and incisive account of an important subject.

Janet GoldenRutgers UniversityCamden, author of A Social History of Wet Nursing: From Breast to Bottle

Janet Golden

The Empty Cradle brilliantly illuminates how American families and physicians struggled with infertility and responded to the shifting scientific and cultural meaning of procreation. It is a beautifully written and incisive account of an important subject.

Janet GoldenRutgers UniversityCamden, author of A Social History of Wet Nursing: From Breast to Bottle

James Mohr

For all the interest in demography, women's history, and reproductive issues in the last twenty years, no previous study has attempted to place American infertility—as distinguished from fertility and fertility regulation—into historical perspective. This excellent book will receive well-deserved attention.

James Mohr, University of Oregon

Meet the Author

Margaret Marsh, Ph.D., the author of Suburban Lives and Anarchist Women, 1870-1920, is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and and professor of history at Rutgers University, Camden.Wanda Ronner, M.D., is an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

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