Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New HC&A Fall Exhibit: Exploring 19th and 20th century Reproductive Healthcare Through a Feminist Lens

At a time when women’s access to birth control, abortions, and other OBGYN services remains a divisive topic in the American political landscape, it feels like a perfect opportunity to examine the complicated history of women’s reproductive healthcare. This history provides an intimate look into the ways perceptions of women and their bodies dictate not only medical procedures but also the construction of the very diagnoses these procedures are meant to aid. It also illustrates how pervading societal perceptions of women and their bodies continue to constrain and/or enhance the choices available to women. These are the inspirational frameworks that guided the research, curation, and installation of the latest exhibit of the OHSU Historical Collections & Archives.  

From September through December 2014, Women, Power, and Reproductive Healthcare: Highlights From 19th and 20th century Obstetrical and Gynecological Practice will be open to the public. Through medical artifacts and archival photographs and documents, all housed by HC&A, the exhibit highlights the changes in obstetrical and gynecological practices throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. From the treatment of women diagnosed with hysteria in the late 1800s to the resurgence of natural childbirth and midwifery practices of the 1970s and 80s, the exhibit touches on a variety of topics relevant to OBGYN history. 

The exhibit is located just past the main entrance on the third floor of the OHSU Library BICC building on the Marquam Hill campus. Please be sure to take home an exhibit brochure containing additional historical information or view an online version of the brochure here: http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/library/about/collections/historical-collections-archives/exhibits/women-power-and-reproductive.cfm

This exhibit merely touches the surface of a rich, dynamic history. Hopefully it sparks conversation and inspires viewers to critically examine the past and its persisting influence on our present and future.
For additional questions about HC&A, please contact University Archivist Max Johnson at johnsmax@ohsu.edu or Head of Historical Collections & Archives Maija Anderson at andermai@ohsu.edu.

By Crystal Rodgers

HC&A Student Assistant 

[Note from Max:  Crystal has included a computer-based slide-show of images and materials related to the exhibit, which can be viewed on the iMac in the exhibit space, BICC, 3rd Floor.]

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