Tag Archives: History Essays

Fascist Italy: The Battle for Births

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Babies in a basket. Photo by Harris & Ewing, May 1923. Library of Congress. No known restrictions on publication. “It’s up to you to create a generation of soldiers and pioneers for the defense of the empire.” – Benito Mussolini, to the women of Italy1 “Women are a charming pastime…but […]

A tangled web: stealing newborns in twentieth-century Spain

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Newborn infant. Photo by United States Children’s Bureau, 1940s. National Library of Medicine Images from the History of Medicine. The National Library of Medicine believes this item to be in the public domain. “We were Europe’s baby supermarket and babies were stolen for sixty years.”1 — Inés Madrigal   Twentieth-century […]

Andersonville, Georgia and Elmira, New York: When Hell was on Earth

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” — Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy   Andersonville Prison, Georgia. South end view of the stockade, showing the sentry stands in the distance. Photographed by A.J. Riddle, August 17, 1864. Library of Congress Liljenquist Family Collection. No known restrictions on publication. Elmira Prison, Elmira, […]

Infectious diseases in the Civil War

Lloyd Klein  San Francisco, California, United States   Dr. Louis Pasteur. Photo by Paul Nadar, 1878. Wellcome Collection. Via Wikimedia. CC BY 4.0. The main cause of death during the American Civil War was not battle injury but disease. About two-thirds of the 620,000 deaths of Civil War soldiers were caused by disease, including 63% […]

What makes a polymath, a genius, or a man who knows everything?

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Fig 1. Einstein playing his violin. From CMUSE via Quora. Public domain. The question posed in this title is of course imponderable and ridiculous, but nevertheless fascinating. Until the Enlightenment (c. 1750–1800), an intellectual “Renaissance man” could have read most of the important books printed. He might well […]

“The trial” of Dr. Spock

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Spock Behind G.W. Library. Photo by Warren K. Leffler, October 15, 1969. U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress. No known restrictions on publication.   “Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale.”1 — Rudolf Virchow, M.D. (1821-1902) […]

When the FBI investigated William Carlos Williams

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   William Carlos Williams. Passport photo with signature. 1921. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Via Wikimedia. “And my ‘medicine’ was the thing that gained me entrance to…[the] secret garden of the self…I was permitted by my medical badge to follow the poor, defeated body onto those gulfs and […]

Musical evenings on HMS Bounty

Stewart Justman Missoula, Montana, United States   The mutineers turning Bligh and his crew from the Bounty, 29th April 1789. Illustration by Robert Dodd. 1790. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Dispatched to Tahiti in 1787 to gather breadfruit trees to be transplanted to the West Indies, HMS Bounty was a small ship with every possible […]

The Queen’s quickening: the phantom pregnancies of Mary I

Eve Elliot Dublin, Ireland   Portrait of Queen Mary I of England by Anthonis Mor, 1554. Prado Museum, Madrid Spain. Via Wikimedia. Public Domain. In November 1554, the people of England believed a miracle had taken place. Resplendent on her new throne, Queen Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII, proudly revealed that she was with […]

The illness of King George III

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Fig 1. Farmer George & his wife. Published by William Holland. 1786. © The Trustees of the British Museum. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. The Hanoverian King George III (1738–1820) was a diligent man of wit and intelligence, a man who enhanced the reputation of the British monarchy until he […]