Thesis ID: CBB363078790

Knowing the Uterus: The Role of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Abortion in the Professionalization of American Medicine, 1880-1920 (2020)


Daxenbichler, Maria (Author)
Cahn, Susan K. (Advisor)

State University of New York at Buffalo
Cahn, Susan K.
Publication date: 2020
Language: English

Publication Date: 2020
Physical Details: 241

Historians of women’s health have long discussed why, starting in the nineteenth century, women increasingly entrusted physicians, who were mostly male, with caring for their reproductive and sexual health and why, by the first quarter of the twentieth century, physicians had become indispensable to this care. In this dissertation I argue that between the 1880s and 1920s physicians integrated obstetrics and gynecology in every step of their development as a profession. Physicians operating medical schools incorporated obstetrics and gynecology into the education of medical students, making sure students practiced delivering a child before they graduated. Leaders of hospitals supported the establishment of nursing schools, not only to have educated staff taking care of patients but also to train nurses as chaperones for obstetrical and gynecological patients. Physicians also developed gynecological and obstetrical treatments that set them apart from other practitioners. To reduce the number of patients developing puerperal fever, obstetricians developed post-partum treatments aimed at preventing infection, which helped improve physicians’ reputation as assistants in childbirth. Gynecologists standardized dilation and curettage, which remained the leading technique to clear the uterus well into the twentieth century. Dilation and curettage allowed physicians to perform abortions as well as treat spontaneous miscarriages and intentional abortions that had not been completed. Taking care of obstetrical and gynecological patients – which included performing abortions – was an integral part of physicians’ general practice and led to more patients trusting them in these fields.

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Authors & Contributors
Carol, Anne
Crellin, John K.
Drucker, Donna J.
Ginzberg, Lori D.
Ignaciuk, Agata
Mazza, Kate
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Gender and History
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
University of California Press
Pennsylvania State University
University of Pittsburgh
New York, City University of
Harvard University Press
Obstetrics and pregnancy
Medicine and society
Professions and professionalization
Medicine and gender
Lisfranc, M. Jacques
Mahfouz, Naguib
Dickinson, Robert Latou
Mermann, Alfons
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
21st century
16th century
United States
New York Times

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