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Fascism and Uteruses


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There are some fascinating parallels between the deployment of eugenic policies around reproduction and women’s bodies in twentieth-century Germany and Japan. In this episode, the fourth in the HBP’s work on reproductive rights and fights in history (from the US to the world). Marissa and Averill tackle eugenics, Nazis, legalized abortion and illegal hormonal birth control, marriage counseling, and more. It’s a story of governments trying to dictate how women can or cannot use their uteruses. Enjoy?


Show Notes & Further Reading

Anita Grossman, Reforming Sex (Oxford University Press, 1995)

Volker Roelcke, Sascha Topp, and Etienne Lepicard, eds., Silence, Scapegoats, Self-Reflection: The Shadow of Nazi Medical Crimes on Medicine and Bioethics (Göttingen: V&r Unipress, 2015).

Dagmar Herzog, Sex after Fascism: Memory and Morality in 20th Century Germany (Princeton University Press: Princeton; 2007).

Mark Roseman, Devin Pendas, and Richard F. Wetzell, Beyond the Racial State (Indiana University Press: Bloomington, IN; 2008).

Christiana A. E. Norgren, Abortion Before Birth Control: The Politics of Reproduction in Postwar Japan (Newark: Princeton University Press, 2001).

Samuel Coleman, Family Planning in Japanese Society: Traditional Birth Control in a Modern Urban Culture (Princeton University Press, 1992)

Takeda Hiroko, The Political Economy of Reproduction in Japan (Routledge, Sep 23, 2004)

Abortion and Birth Control before Roe v. Wade

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At the Women’s Marches across the U.S. on January 21st, there were hundreds–maybe thousands–of women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who held up signs that conveyed their frustration with still needing to fight for rights like birth control and abortion. This is a battle that has waged for so, so long. On this episode, Sarah and Elizabeth look back at the late 19th and early 20th century struggle for women’s rights. After our country finally granted women the right to vote in 1920, the emphasis of the women’s rights movement shifted to focus on another issue: access to methods of family limitation.



Show Notes & Further Reading

Jean H. Baker, Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion (New York: Hill and Wang, 2011).

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction (Random House Vintage Books Edition, 1980).

Linda Gordon, The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America (Chicago, 2002)

Regina Morantz-Sanchez, Conduct Unbecoming a Woman: Medicine on Trial in Turn of the Century Brooklyn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Diane Sands, “Using Oral History to Chart the Course of Illegal Abortion in Montana,” Frontiers: A Study of Women’s History, Vol. 7, No. 1 (1983)

Early American Family Limitation

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Birth control and abortion are constant flash points in contemporary politics, and they’re often described as signs of a rapidly changing society. But women have always had ways (though not always quite as effective ones) to control family size, and early American women were no exception. Understanding the role that reproductive rights has played in American history provides critical context to today’s debates. Have we always had these kinds of debates? How did Americans think about abortion in the late 18th century, or the 19th century? In this episode, Elizabeth and Sarah start a three part conversation about women’s reproductive rights in United States history by talking about birth control methods and abortion in the 18th and 19th century.

Show Notes & Further Reading 

Dayton, Cornelia Hughes. Women before the Bar : Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut, 1639-1789 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995).

Duden, Barbara.  The Woman beneath the Skin : A Doctor’s Patients in Eighteenth-Century Germany (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991).

Gordon, Linda. The Moral Property of Women : A History of Birth Control Politics in America. 3rd edn (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2002).

Klepp, Susan E.  Revolutionary Conceptions: Women, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America, 1760-1820 (Chapel Hill, 2009).

Mohr, James C.  Abortion in America : The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, 1800-1900 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978).

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 (New York: Vintage Books, 1991).

Family Limitation in the Pre-Modern World

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In the wake of the Global Gag Rule that the U.S. President just issued in his first week in office, there is really no better time to start talking about the history of family limitation in all of its iterations across time and space – from various contraceptives invented by the ancient Egyptians to the many herbal remedies employed by midwives and women generally to “restore the menses” to a broader discussion of when and where states have attempted to control the reproductive feature of women’s bodies. This episode is just the first of many more to come addressing these very issues of women’s reproductive health and rights. Join Marissa and Averill as they dive into the wild, weird, and sometimes dangerous methods of family limitation in the pre-modern world.

Show Notes & Further Reading

Edwards,Stassa. “The History of Abortifacients.” Jezebel. 18 Nov 2014.

Biddlecom, Ann E. “Family Planning, Abortion, and Reproductive Health.” The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Ritzer, George (ed). Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

Brick, P. 2003. “The Encyclopedia of Birth Control, Edited by Vern L. Bullough”. JOURNAL OF SEX RESEARCH. 40: 315.

Hardacre, Helen. Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press, 1999.

Hoffer, Peter Charles, and N. E. H. Hull. Murdering Mothers: Infanticide in England and New England, 1558-1803. New York: New York University Press, 1984.

James, Peter, and I. J. Thorpe. Ancient Inventions. 1994.

Poston, Dudley L. Fertility, Family Planning, and Population Policy in China. London: Routledge, 2006.

Riddle, John M. Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance. 1992.

Unschuld, Paul, and Jinsheng Zheng. Chinese Traditional Healing (3 Vols.) The Berlin Collections of Manuscript Volumes from the 16th Through the Early 20th Century. Leiden: BRILL, 2012

Wiesner, Merry E. Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Zheng, Tiantian. Ethnographies of Prostitution in Contemporary China: Gender Relations, HIV/AIDS, and Nationalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009

Immunizations and Anti-Vax Movements

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Vaccination has been a controversial subject and we tend to think that this is a new phenomenon. Proponents of vaccination blame anti-vax parents for the recent cropping-up of preventable (and formerly eliminated) diseases such as the NYC measles outbreak in 2014, and the return of Pertussis in 2015. While parents who oppose vaccination or those who believe in vaccine choice are suspicious of the CDC’s rigorous vaccine schedule, “Big Pharma,” and the possibility of vaccine injury due to questionable ingredients. But this is NOT new. Debate and conflict have existed around the use and efficacy of immunizations since the practice first came into use. This episode considers the history of immunization and its opponents.

Show Notes and Further Reading:

Arthur Boylston, “The Origins of Inoculation,” Journal of the Royal Society of MedicineJuly 2012

Daniel R. Bronfin, Childhood Immunization Controversies: What are Parents Asking?”, The Ochsner Journal, Fall 2008

Carole Emberton, “The Minister of Death,” The New York Times Opinionator BlogAugust 17, 2012

Amy Lynn Filsinger & Raymond Dwek,George Washington and the First Mass Military Inoculation,” The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

“History of Anti-Vaccination Movements,” The History of VaccinesJanuary 25, 2016

Humphries, Margaret. The Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 2013).

Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs, “Vaccinations Have Always Been Controversial in America,” Time Magazine, July 31, 2015

Robert Middlekauff, The Mathers: Three Generations of Puritan Intellectuals, 1596-1728. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

Terry Reimer, “Smallpox and Vaccination in the Civil War,” The National Museum of Civil War Medicine November 9, 2004

Stefan Riedel, “Edward Jenner and the History of Smallpox and Vaccination,” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings January 2005

Mariana Zapata, “How Civil Wars Gave Themselves Syphilis While Trying to Avoid Smallpox,” Atlas ObscuraNovember 30, 2016.


Featured image: An 1802 illustration depicts Edward Jenner vaccinating a young woman. (National Museum of Medicine)

Thanksgiving: Part II

Last year we came to you with a bit of the history of the first American Thanksgiving. This year, we’re casting our net a bit wider. Join Averill and Sarah as they talk about the complicated history of corn, some insights into Haudenosaunee food culture, and some regional perspectives on Thanksgiving.

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Show Notes and Further Reading

Bachmann, Karen. “Canadian origin to Thanksgiving?” The Daily Press. October 11, 2015. 

Warren,  Nathan B. The Holidays: Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide; together with the May-day, Midsummer, and Harvest-Home Festivals. Troy, N.Y., H. B. Nims and Company: 1876.

Mann, Barbara Alice. George Washington’s War on Native America. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008).

Moss, Robert. “How Thanksgiving, ‘The Yankee Abolitionist Holiday,’ Won Over the South.” 

Pleck, Elizabeth. “ The Making of the Domestic Occasion: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States.” Journal of Social History. 07/1999, Volume 32, Issue 4. 

Thanksgiving in Canada.” The Canadian Encyclopedia.

“The Harvest Home: An Old English Festival Akin to Thanksgiving.” New York Tribune. (Nov 27, 1895): 20.

Gandondagan Seneca Art & Culture Center 

Freida Jacques explains the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address 

Text of a version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address

Iroquois White Corn Project (Don’t forget to order some corn!)

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy 

Oren Lyons tells the story of The Peacemaker & The Tadadaho 

Remember the 5th of November

Dan, Averill, and Tommy ponder the meaning of a mask, political and religious oppression, and anarchy. Stuff your Fawkes effigy, we’re talking Bonfire Night / Pope Day / Guy Fawkes Day on the podcast!

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Show Notes & Further Reading

Gunpowder Plot,” The National Archives

Guy Fawkes,” The History Learning site

Ervin Beck, “Children’s Guy Fawkes Customs in Sheffield” Folklore, Vol. 95, No. 2 (1984), pp. 191-203

Lewis Call, “A is for Anarchy, V is for Vendetta: Images of Guy Fawkes and the Creation of Postmodern Anarchism,” Anarchist Studies 16.2 (2008): 154-172,105.

Damian Carrington, “Gunpowder Plot would have devastated London,” New Scientist, November 5, 2003 

Michael Cottrell, “Green and Orange in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Toronto: The Guy Fawkes’ Day Episode of 1864”  The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Jul., 1993), pp. 12-21

Antonia Fraser, Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot (New York: Doubleday, 1996)

Megan Lane, “If Guy Fawkes had Succeeded,” BBC News, November 4, 2005

John Pollock, The Popish Plot: A Study in the History of the Reign of Charles II (Duckworth: Great Britain, 1903)

James Sharpe, Remember, Remember: A Cultural History of Guy Fawkes Day Harvard University press, 2005

John N. Wall, Jr. and Terry Bunce Burgin. “This Sermon . . . upon the Gun-Powder Day”: The Book of Homilies of 1547 and Donne’s Sermon in Commemoration of Guy Fawkes’ Day, 1622. South Atlantic Review, Vol. 49, No. 2 (May, 1984), pp. 19-30

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