2013 Fellowship Awardee
Dr. Ciara Brethnach, Ph.D.
Lecturer in History, Director of the History of Family Project
University of Limerick, Ireland
Dr. Brethnach has published on Irish socio-economic and health histories in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as contributed to numerous research projects and papers. She has a Ph.D. in history from the National University of Ireland and an MA of History from the National University of Ireland.
Her research focuses on how the poor experienced, engaged with and negotiated medical services in Ireland and in North America from 1860-1912. It builds on Breathnach’s wider studies on the family unit and the social history of medicine in Ireland and will help to advance her hypothesis that the rural Irish female was slow to medicalize, not only for socio-economic reasons, but also for reasons of personal agency (Breathnach, 2011a, 2011b, 2012a). Using evidence from Boston dispensary and various hospital records this research aims to show that Irish women continued to present as a problematic group long after the ethnic associations with cholera and typhoid outbreaks of earlier decades had dissipated (Kraut, 1994; Rosenberg 1997).
Breathnach’s study examines migratory waves against trends in medical and social modernity processes. Combining pre-existing hypotheses from migration history and history of family, this study argues that because most Irish immigrants came from pre and proto-industrial households, they occupied a ‘transition phase’ of the social development process and were unfamiliar with modern medicine. Displaced by agricultural transition, and changes in marriage and inheritance patterns, Irish female migration came to outnumber male by the 1890s. Even after economic convergence had been reached in terms of real wages the rural Irish female continued to emigrate in significant numbers for economic, social and cultural reasons. These gendered migration trends have been well explored and established by economic and social historians but the history of their medical acculturation has remained largely ignored. By contrast the strain of Irish immigrants on the mental health system has received due consideration. This focused study of records held at the Archives for Women in Medicine at the Countway Library will be weighed against other socio-economic evidence to establish how problematic groups such as the Irish poor affected and shaped medical care in Boston.
The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine will provide one $5000 grant to support travel, lodging, and incidental expenses for a flexible research period between July 1st 2013 - June 30th 2014. Foundation Fellowships are offered for research related to the history of women to be conducted at the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. Preference will be given to projects that deal specifically with women physicians or other health workers or medical scientists, but proposals dealing with the history of women's health issues may also be considered.
Manuscript collections which may be of special interest include the recently-opened Mary Ellen Avery Papers, the Leona Baumgartner Papers, and the Grete Bibring Papers (to find out more about our collections, visit the Countway Library website). Preference will be given to those who are using collections from the Center's Archives for Women in Medicine, but research on the topic of women in medicine using other material from the Countway Library will be considered. Preference will also be given to applicants who live beyond commuting distance of the Countway, but all are encouraged to apply, including graduate students.
In return, the Foundation requests a one page report on the Fellow's research experience, a copy of the final product (with the ability to post excerpts from the paper/project), and a photo and bio of the Fellow for web and newsletter announcements.
Applicants should submit a proposal (no more than two pages) outlining the subject and objectives of the research project, historical materials to be used, and length of residence, along with a project budget (including travel, lodging, and research expenses), a curriculum vitae and two letters of recommendation. The fellowship proposal should demonstrate that the Countway Library has resources central to the research topic. Dates for the 2014 process have not yet been finalized, so please forward any questions to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications should be submitted to:
Women in Medicine Fellowships
Archives for Women in Medicine
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine
10 Shattuck Street
Boston, MA 02115
Electronic submissions of applications and supporting materials and any questions may be directed to Jessica Sedgwick
For more information, please visit the Countway Library's website.
Cheryl Lemus, Ph.D.
Established in 1998, the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine (FHWIM) was founded with the belief that knowing the historical past is a powerful force in shaping the future. The Foundation's Board of Trustees believes strongly that partnering with organizations that share the same passion for and commitment to the history of women in medicine and the medical sciences, and the integration of this history into the medical community, will help to further the organization’s mission,
"To promote and to preserve the history of women in medicine and the medical sciences."
The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine has achieved national prominence through its Board, its awards and programs. The FHWIM has established strong partnerships with like-minded organizations in order to deliver viable programs such as the oral history project, research fellowships, student scholarships and our annual recognition award. Through these national partnerships and programs, the Foundation has been and continues to be successful in preserving the history of women in medicine and promoting its impact today in the national arena.
The Archives for Women in Medicine (AWM) is a project of the Joint Committee on the Status of Women and the Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The AWM’s goal is to recognize outstanding medical leaders, and to document the social phenomena that brought large numbers of women to the forefront of medicine. The AWM’s objective is to actively acquire, process, preserve, provide access to, and publicize the papers of women physicians, researchers, and medical administrators. A list of collections in the AWM can be provided.
Established in 1960 as a result of an alliance between the Boston Medical Library and the Harvard Medical Library, the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is the largest academic medical library in the United States. The Countway Library maintains a collection of approximately 700,000 volumes. The Center for the History of Medicine's collection of archives and manuscripts, numbering between 15-20 million items, is the largest collection of its kind in the United States. The manuscripts collection includes the personal and professional records of physicians from the medieval and Renaissance periods through the twentieth century, including the professional papers of many renowned Harvard faculty members as well as physicians and scientists from New England and around the country.
A Named Fellowship ($2500)
A gift of $2500 will provide for one fellowship. Your gift will enable you to
- name the fellowship in your name, or the name of one you wish to honor or remember with the fellowship,
- receive updates on the progress of your fellow’s research, and
- receive a copy of the completed research for your enjoyment
>> More Information - Download Brochure
>> Name a Fellowship - Complete Form