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NLM History Talks: Current

History Talks in 2023

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    The Many Faces of Diabetes: Complications and Debility in Late 20th Century America

    Richard M. Mizelle, Jr., PhD — Associate Professor of History, University of Houston

    2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET — This talk will be live-streamed globally, and archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

    Read an interview with Richard M. Mizelle, Jr. on our blog Circulating Now.  | Watch on YouTube

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    Diabetes has played a key role in multiple twentieth century movements from the Progressive era to Black Lives Matter. Diabetes is also a window into the many complications of this chronic disease, including amputations, chronic kidney failure, disability, and the ramifications of racism as a public health threat. The many complications of diabetes reveal questions of structural inequality, environmental racism, and medical neglect that inform disease experience. Highlighting the use of some NLM historical collections and his broader work with the higher education modules of the NLM Traveling Exhibition Program, this talk uses diabetes as a window into the Civil Rights and Post-Civil Rights era to rethink the meaning of chronic disease and activism. Secondly, this talk highlights the dual epidemics of amputation and chronic kidney disease that reveal staggering inequalities in public health resources.

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    COVID Comics: Decentering White Narratives in Graphic Medicine During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Soha Bayoumi, PhD (She/They) — Senior Lecturer, Medicine, Science, and the Humanities, Johns Hopkins University

    2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET — This talk will be live-streamed globally, and archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

    Read an interview with Soha Bayoumi on our blog Circulating Now.  | Watch on YouTube

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    The Graphic Medicine Manifesto (2015) defines Graphic Medicine as “the intersection of the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare.” Since the field emerged over a decade ago as a legitimate area of scholarly inquiry, artistic creativity, and interest for medical professionals, patients, and caregivers alike, the NLM has engaged with it in different ways, growing its collection of graphic narratives exploring experiences of illness and organizing a traveling exhibition, "Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived & Well-Drawn!” through display panels and a variety of events to raise awareness about this burgeoning field. Despite efforts to diversify the field of Graphic Medicine, many have lamented the fact that it continued to center white narratives. In this talk, Dr. Bayoumi explores the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has changed this. She argues that the nature of the pandemic, as a major global event affecting health all over the planet and disproportionately impacting communities of color, meant that many more BIPOC and other people of the global majority have produced diverse narratives of COVID, graphic and otherwise. She claims that COVID’s diversifying effect on Graphic Medicine is indelible and is paving the way for the expression of many more diverse graphic narratives of health and illness.

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    Global Medicine in China and Taiwan: A Diasporic History

    Wayne Soon, PhD — Associate Professor, Program of the History of Medicine in the Department of Surgery and Program of History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, University of Minnesota

    2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET — This talk will be live-streamed globally, and archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

    Read an interview with Wayne Soon on our blog Circulating Now.  | Watch on YouTube

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    By examining two case studies involving how the Chinese diaspora became central in shaping biomedicine in China and Taiwan from 1937 to 1970, Dr. Soon will make a case for a new historical concept of global medicine. “Global medicine” highlights the multivalent and multidirectional flows of transnational medical practices and ideas that shaped Chinese East Asia in the twentieth century. The first case study examines how Chinese American medical personnel established the first Chinese blood bank in New York and Kunming during the Second World War. The second case study reveals how Singapore-born and Edinburgh-educated Dr. Robert Lim, and his international collaborators relocated the National Defense Medical Center from China to Taiwan in 1948 despite numerous challenges arising from the tumultuous Chinese Civil War. This presentation reveals the critical intersections of international expertise, transnational connections, and diasporic affect in shaping medicine and society in modern China and Taiwan.

    Photo courtesy Karl Rabe, Vassar College

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  • "We’re Here, We’re Queer, Get Used to It": Struggles and Stories to Be Heard for Today and Tomorrow

    Randall Sell, ScD — Professor, School of Public Health and Department of Community Health and Prevention, Drexel University

    2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET — This talk will be live-streamed globally, and archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

    Read an interview with Randall Sell on our blog Circulating Now.  | Watch on YouTube

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    Starting with two documents in the archival collections of the NLM, Dr. Sell will examine how early sexual and gender minority (SGM) Americans worked to normalize the presence of SGMs in society. Ralph Werther (1874-?) hoped that his writings might render “nature’s step-children” lives more tolerable and he “offered no apology” for their publication. Specifically, he hoped to repeal laws under which SGMs were incarcerated, put a stop to a continuous string of murders of these stepchildren, and save “hundreds” of these “melancholy sexual intermediates from suicide.” In addition to these objectives, Allen Bernstein (1913-2008) gives further justification for his writings stating that “travelers returning from strange adventure in far ends of the world owe civilization a report.” But Werther and Bernstein struggled, often unsuccessfully, to get their writings published and into libraries such as the Army Medical Library, the predecessor institution of the NLM. In this talk, Dr. Sell will examine their struggles and stories, and those of other SGM writers, including those working today.

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    Mrs. Medicine: Doctors’ Wives and the Making of Modern American Health Care

    Kelly S. O’Donnell, PhD — Visiting Assistant Professor of U.S. History at Bryn Mawr College, and 2019 NLM Michael E. DeBakey Fellow

    2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET — This talk will be live-streamed globally, and archived, by NIH VideoCasting  | Watch on YouTube Live.

    Read an interview with Kelly S. O’Donnell on our blog Circulating Now.

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    Marrying a doctor was presented as an aspirational goal for many young women in the twentieth century United States. For those who succeeded in securing a physician husband, however, married life was often hard work. From fundraising for hospital construction to waging political campaigns to answering patients’ phone calls, the doctor’s wife was an essential part of the growth of the American health care system as we know it. Drawing on a wide variety of NLM resources—particularly the publications of medical women’s auxiliary groups—this talk will argue that an understanding of marriage and domestic partnership has been an unfortunately neglected key element in our histories of medicine.

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    Reading Remedy Books: Manuscripts and the Making of a National Medical Tradition

    Melissa B. Reynolds, PhD — Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Wolf Humanities Center; Lecturer, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania

    2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET — This talk will be live-streamed globally, and archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

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    Around the turn of the fifteenth century, ordinary English people (merchants, village priests, and well-to-do farmers) found themselves with the means, for the first time, to create books of medical knowledge. Hundreds of the manuscripts they filled with medical recipes, herbals, and prognostications survive in archives across Britain and the United States—three of them at the NLM. As bespoke collections, these manuscripts reveal something of the attitudes and interests of their original fifteenth-century patrons, but they were also living books: many were altered and amended by subsequent readers who shaped them to suit their own ends. Dr. Reynolds’s talk explores the many meanings that accrued to these medical manuscripts over time, from the early fifteenth century when accessing medical knowledge in the vernacular was still something of a novelty, through the sixteenth century, when the technology of print profoundly altered the circulation of medical knowledge in England. Drawing on material from her first book, Dr. Reynolds will show how sixteenth-century readers became amateur archivists, using century-old remedy books to construct an imagined national medical tradition.

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About the NLM History Talks

These talks sponsored by the NLM History of Medicine Division promote awareness and use of NLM and related historical collections for research, education, and public service in biomedicine, the social sciences, and the humanities. The series also supports the commitment of the NLM to recognize the diversity of its collections—which span ten centuries, encompass a range of digital and physical formats, and originate from nearly every part of the globe—and to foreground the voices of people of color, women, and individuals of a variety of cultural and disciplinary backgrounds who value these collections and use them to advance their research, teaching, and learning.

Stay informed about NLM History Talks on Twitter at #NLMHistTalk.

All talks are free and until further notice will be held virtually, closed-captioned live, live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived by NIH VideoCasting. Livestreaming and archiving of all NLM History Talks are made possible through a generous gift to the NLM from the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Foundation. The NLM is authorized to accept donations in support of its mission.

To request reasonable accommodations to participate in this event contact the NLM Support Center. Requests should be made as early as possible to allow time for coordination.

Last Reviewed: September 21, 2023