The Female Physician: a Deviation from 19th-Century Gender Roles?

The Female Physician: a Deviation from 19th-Century Gender Roles?

This 19th-century image of a lone female physician making a heroic midnight visit seems out of context for a time in which the majority of women worked inside the home cooking, cleaning, and raising children.  However, it illustrated a book by a male writer who supported traditional conceptions of gender.  In his 1870 publication, Woman: Her Rights, Wrongs, Privileges, and Responsibilities, Linus P. Brockett argues that despite dangers like “midnight rides in dark nights and over rough roads,” the more delicate and nurturing qualities of women, especially their “tact…skill…[and]…knowledge how to manage…a child, which seems almost intuitive [to them],” gave women the potential to be excellent physicians (160-165). For one of my two projects at the Library Company of Philadelphia this summer, I’m looking for images of 19th-century American women that could be used as tools for teaching students American history. I’ve learned that even when women did venture outside of their homes, they could not escape the conceptions of domesticity and sentimentality that characterized them in their private lives.  These conceptions shape both Linus P. Brockett’s arguments for and reservations against female physicians.  Brockett explains that women’s domestic experience and sentimental capabilities would give them a leg up providing comfort to the sick and undertaking pediatric care. At the same time, he expresses the fear that female physicians might neglect their own motherly duties and that their sentimentality might make them ill-equipped to handle the harsh realities traveling physicians would face (Brockett 158-166).  From the debate over their role in temperance movements to the debate over their work with benevolent organizations like orphan asylums, the conversation by male...
The Death Strip

The Death Strip

The Berlin Wall was much more than a wall. That’s as true literally as it is figuratively. Yes, of course, it was, as the closest thing to a physical incarnation of the Iron Curtain, a symbol of Cold War division and authoritarianism. But the wall was only one part of the Berlin Wall. Actually, the Berliner Mauer, as it is called in German, was a vast and complex apparatus. East Germany (the German Democratic Republic, or GDR) began surrounding West Berlin first with barbed wire and then with stone in 1961, calling the project an “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart.” The “fascists” here, of course, were West Berlin, West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany, or FRD, which West Berlin was not technically part of), and the Western occupation forces, all of whom the GDR would keep at bay by surrounding West Berlin with the Rampart. Despite the name, and despite the fact that it was West Berlin that the Mauer surrounded, it was really built to keep East Germans in East Germany. Starting soon after the Allies divided Germany into four Occupation Zones in the summer of 1945, large numbers of those in the Russian Zone—which would evolve into the GDR—began poring into the West. Particularly concerning for GDR officials, as time went on, was the brain drain: the doctors, scientists, academics, artists, and professionals who escaped through the porous border. The Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart would put an end to that. To achieve this, the GDR could not simply put up a slab of bricks. This infographic, from the New York Times, does a nice job of showing how complex...
The Process of Cultural Mapping

The Process of Cultural Mapping

Over the past few weeks, I have frequently visited Chester and the surrounding area. The city of Chester is situated on the Delaware River between Philadelphia and Wilmington. Once the commercial and industrial hub of Delaware County, the decline of heavy industry in the region has caused prolonged urban flight.  In the last 60 years, the population has dwindled from its peak of 66,000 in 1950 to 34,000 today. Yet in the past few years, local residents and the city of Chester have looked at ways to recognize the thriving arts and culture scene in Chester as an opportunity to highlight the region’s cultural assets to visitors and residents alike. Artists like Ethel Waters and Bill Haley lived in Chester and today it is home to many grassroots art, theater, and dance groups. To emphasize the region’s cultural vitality, the Chester Cultural Corridor was envisioned, which sought funding for an innovative city planning initiative to bring arts to the forefront of downtown Chester. Yet before any future plans could be discussed regarding land use and city planning, a project called “Chester Made” was developed in order to construct a cultural map listing places of existing and historic artistic and cultural significance to help inform and assist promoters of a downtown arts and culture district. This summer, one of the projects that I have been working on as an intern with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council is the production of such a cultural map. The catch with the development of such a map was that every data point and location placed on it needed to be identified by local residents in order...
Maps and Scooter the Dog: Beginnings at Fringe

Maps and Scooter the Dog: Beginnings at Fringe

Whenever I do not have a specific project at FringeArts, I draw maps. Each map is of a different neighborhood in Philadelphia and so far, I have drawn five, Old City, Kensington, South Philly, North Philly, and West Philly. These hand drawn doodles are going to be in the Festival Guide and are meant to help patrons navigate their ways around Fringe Festival. While these maps are hopefully going to be useful to festival goers in the near future, drawing them has been especially useful for me. My experience mapping each neighborhood has led to a deeper and more personal understanding of the contours and crevasses of Philadelphia. This summer, I am the Guide Intern at FringeArts. FringeArts is an organization that ties together Philadelphia and the global world through contemporary performing arts. Every September, the organization presents Fringe Festival, an eightteen day celebration of art and performance (whoa!). During the festival, local, national, and international artists present dance performances, theater pieces, and visual art in a multitude of venues throughout the city (everyone, let’s go!). My main task for the summer is working on the festival guide, a booklet that lists basic festival information, like show times and locations, and extra pieces of writing, like blurbs about the artists and their performances. Other than venturing to new places in Philly through my mechanical pencil and my computer paper maps, I have written blurbs, visited a wacky rehearsal for a contemporary remake of A Doll’s House for the upcoming Fringe Festival, and cuddled with Scooter, the coziest dog in the entire planet. I have also interviewed Haverford Alumna, Antonia Brown about her upcoming solo...