Health histories from watery places: Seafaring bodies in the labour archive

Madeleine Mant // In the basement of an unassuming building on the Memorial University campus in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, lies the Maritime History Archive (MHA), curating the employment records of Britain’s Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen (RGSS). Approximately 75% of all surviving logbooks and Agreements from 1857 to 1942 and 1951 to…

The Murky History of Colonizing Near Water

Theodora Christopher // In 1854, John Snow presented his theory that the rapid spread of cholera in London was due to the local water supply.[1] This was the first scientific documentation of a waterborne disease.[2] Research has since shown that illnesses such as botulism, dysentery, and typhoid are waterborne diseases, and that contaminated water can…

The Science of Judging a Book by its Cover

Brent Arehart // There is a famous anecdote about Hippocrates told by Arabic authors. One day, Hippocrates’ students gathered to discuss whether anyone else was more virtuous than their master. When they could not think of any obvious candidates, one student got a clever idea. He proposed that they acquire a picture of Hippocrates and…

Better to Protect than Regret

Better to Protect than Regret: What Syphilis Campaigns Can Teach Us About Combating the Coronavirus Jessica M. E. Kirwan // In 1917, an incurable bacterial disease had infected an estimated 10% of England’s cities.1 It spread through sexual intercourse, then slowly attacked multiple organs of the body until causing a painful death. Little was known…

Literature After the Era of Roe v. Wade

Bojan Srbinovski // “The right of privacy,” writes Justice Harry Blackmun in the majority opinion for Roe v. Wade, “whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action…or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to…

COVID-19: Novel Virus, Classic Scapegoating (Part 2)

Michael Goyette // This is Part 2 of a two-part essay. Read the first installment here. Commonly described as a “novel virus” and an “unprecedented” pandemic, COVID-19 has already proven to have many of the characteristics commonly attributed to new diseases in ancient literature: it is highly infectious and poses challenges for containment and treatment alike,…

COVID-19: Novel Virus, Classic Scapegoating (Part 1)

Michael Goyette // This is Part 1 of a two-part essay. The next installment will appear on Thursday, April 23. Like Pandora’s proverbial box, the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly unleashed a deluge of suffering, hardship, and abuse. One of the earliest and best-known Greek myths, the story of Pandora relates the abrupt appearance of misfortunes…

Nursing, Social Drama, and the Coronavirus Pandemic

John A. Carranza // Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has disrupted daily life for people around the world as medical experts, scientists, and nations rush to halt the spread of this virus. In the United States, Americans have put their lives on hold to practice social distancing and quarantine when infected. Grocery store employees, delivery service workers,…

Cases, Indian Soldiers and the First World War

Sanaullah Khan, Johns Hopkins University //             To help illuminate the psychic and medical realities of the First World War, it is perhaps useful to study the archive of personal correspondences in a British hospital where injured Indian soldiers were brought during the conflict. Though conceiving of medical cases that arise out of personal correspondences…