I have found a number of archival sources/exhibits online useful for infusing HSTM content into my undergraduate courses. The history of eugenics in America is always fascinating to students since it touches on so many enduring questions about reproductive rights, scientific authority, and the proper limits of state and federal authority. In my Women in the U.S. course, the struggle to secure women's bodily autonomy is a central theme. As such, I spend considerable time on eugenics and 'race suicide' rhetoric, the birth control movement, and the complicated class and racial politics of involuntary and voluntary sterilization throughout the 20th century.
The Eugenics Archive is a good site for students to explore to get background information and exposure to images from the time period, as is this site devoted to the Buck v. Bell case. When we get to the 1970s in the course, I have found this site on the sterilization program in North Carolina to be useful. The Winston-Salem Journal has done some excellent reporting to highlight the voices of women who were sterilized and to advocate for the compensation of the surviving victims. Discussing the coercive sterilizations of poor women, and especially women of color, helps to get students thinking about how the right to have children and the right to not have children were fused under the framework of reproductive freedom in this time period through the work of feminist coalitions like CARASA (Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse). Heuristically, this is important because it helps students understand the difference between late 20th century policies rooted in population control versus approaches based on reproductive justice. The Population and Development Program at Hampshire College has an excellent digital archive available for download on population control imagery that helps to drive this point home.
Assistant Professor of History & Women's Studies
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
As some of you know, I host a women in science digital collection: http://womeninscience.history.msu.edu/.
The collection includes biographies of women in science accompanied by primary sources, for example Judith Zinsser’s work on Marquise Du Chatelet and a biography of Ellen H. Richards written by Helen Veit. In addition to featuring the research of historians of science, the collection incorporates biographies written by talented undergraduates.
Working in a college with STEM and HPS faculty, I have been struck by how many opportunities exist for undergraduates to publish and present their STEM research while there are little or no opportunities for undergraduates to take their history of science research beyond the classroom. In response to this, I began seeking undergraduate contributions to my women in science digital collection. Danielle Peck, for example, was a student of mine who wrote a wonderful biography of Eliza Burt Gamble. Peck found several primary sources to accompany her biography in Lansing and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her research is now being developed into a museum exhibit by Michigan State University museum and Lyman Briggs College. Another former student, Theresa Koenigsknecht, wrote an essay placing the works of Esther Emerson Sweeney in the context of 1940s and 1950s courtship manuals.
If you have a student doing a biography of a woman in science that significantly engages with primary sources, and their final paper is of a high quality, please encourage them to contact me about publishing their work as part of the digital collection.
Online publication would involve the student gaining permission from archives to feature some primary sources along with their essay. These permissions tend to be free, with the archive being credited on the digital collection. If any costs are involved, Michigan State University has pockets of money for undergraduate research and I suspect other universities have something similar. I should also add that I have ensured students retain all copyright to their work so they can always publish it elsewhere in the future.
Please contact me if you have any questions and/or you have students who would be good candidates for the digital collection. Please also feel free to announce this opportunity in your classes.
Georgina M. Montgomery
Lyman Briggs College
and the Department of History
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