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medical history


  • The "War on Cancer" at 50: The Most Fruitful Failure in Human History

    by Judith L. Pearson

    Announced by Richard Nixon in 1971, the "War on Cancer" has not yielded a cure. But it has driven research that has deepened understanding of cancers and developed life-saving treatments, while erasing ignorance and stigma. It has been one of humanity's most successful failures. 



  • Medical Racism has Shaped U.S. Policies for Centuries

    by Deirdre Cooper Owens

    Medical racism over centuries has "created a system of belief and practice that allowed doctors to place blame on Black people for not having the same health outcomes as White people."


  • The Plague in Ancient Athens: A Cautionary Tale for America

    by Fred Zilian

    The United States in some respects has fared better under COVID than Athens did during the plague that accompanied the Peloponnesian War: a vaccine is in sight, and our head of state survived the day's most feared disease. But in both cases, disease showed the strains and cracks of a society and political system that will be difficult to repair.



  • Vaccinated? Show Us Your App

    Medical historian Michael Willrich says that the prospect of smartphone-based credentialing to demonstrate an individual has been vaccinated is potentially invasive of privacy and the control of health data by private interests. 



  • The Struggle to Document COVID-19 for Future Generations

    by Pamela Ballinger

    Images of suffering have been powerful spurs to humanitarian action in history, but the process has the potential to reinforce messages of fault, blame, and separation. Assembling a visual archive of the age of COVID must avoid those traps to be useful in the future. 



  • History Reminds Us that Vaccines Alone Don't End Pandemics

    by E. Thomas Ewing

    Positive news about advances on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus should not be taken as a license to stop mask-wearing and social distancing argues a historian of viral pandemics. 



  • The Racist Lady with the Lamp

    by Natalie Stake-Doucet

    "Nursing historiography is centered on whiteness. Even worse, nursing history revolves largely around a single white nurse: Florence Nightingale. This, unfortunately, doesn’t mean nurses understand who Nightingale was."



  • Last Week Tonight: The World Health Organization

    The weekly comedy-investigative program includes an assessment of the World Health Organization's past work eradicating disease in the developing world and the Trump administration's attacks on the agency (includes some vulgar language and jokes).


  • "Follow the Science," but Explain and Apologize

    by Susan M. Reverby

    Governments need to establish trust so that their public health announcements are credible and persuasive, but have undermined that trust by conducting ethically questionable studies. A model of apology is part of the solution.