Women and Medicine in Western History

Sources from the Rubenstein LIbrary


May 1, 2018June 1, 2018

Location: Student Wall

The first-year students in the Spring 2018 Writing 101 class Women’s Medicine in Western History present this exhibition as a culmination of our studies and research on women in the history of medicine. Drawing from the Rubenstein Library’s special collections, we worked in teams to create this display, which highlights historical materials held at Duke pertaining to women in medicine, both as practitioners and patients. Our work on this exhibit required us to focus on how to best communicate our analysis of historical sources.

As a note, please be aware that wall text is included in the images on display.

During the semester, we were given the opportunity to explore the Rubenstein Library and select an item that connected in some way to the themes of the course. With the help of dedicated archivists, librarians, and others, we examined a collection of books, photographs, posters, letters, and other sources. We divided ourselves into teams based on similar interests in topics such as sexuality, puberty, reproductive health and rights, mental health, and more. Our goal was not necessarily to provide a complete historical account; rather, we pursued topics we felt passionate about within women’s medicine. As a result, our collection of projects is more of a “highlights-and-hidden-treasures” exhibition than a chronological and comprehensive account of women’s experiences in western history. Please be aware that this exhibit contains potentially upsetting and disturbing content. Sources included here depict and discuss female genitalia, abortion, sex, and more. We have chosen to include these images and themes in an effort to reduce stigma and encourage conversation; however, viewer discretion is advised.