The Archives for Women in Medicine is pleased to announce our 2014-2015 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellow: Rebecca Kluchin, Ph.D.
Dr. Kluchin is an Associate Professor of History at California State University, Sacramento, and studies the history of women’s reproductive health in the United States. Her first book, Fit to Be Tied: Sterilization and Reproductive Rights in America, 1950-1980 (Rutgers University Press, 2005), won the Francis Richardson Keller-Sierra Award for best monograph published in 2009 from the Western Association of Women’s Historians. Her current project, Pregnancy and Personhood: The Maternal-Fetal Relationship in America, 1850 to the Present, examines the evolution of the public and private relationship between a woman and her pregnancy and explores the ways in which changing definitions of fetal rights, fetal personhood, maternal responsibility, and abortion have shaped the experiences and cultural understanding of pregnancy for millions of women across race and class.
Kluchin’s research shows that efforts to grant personhood rights to the “unborn” in the United States date back to the 1850s and have not always been embroiled in the politics of abortion. Pregnancy and Personhood considers the extent to which women’s experience with prenatal care, pregnancy, and motherhood has been influenced by maternal-fetal politics and studies how these politics have changed over time and why. During her time at the Countway, Kluchin will make use of numerous collections including the papers of Alan Guttmacher, Arthur T. Hertig, John Rock, Leona Baumgartner, Amalie Kass and Benjamin Osgood and as well as the records of the Boston Lying-In Hospital. Among other things, she will track the evolution of prenatal care and the language physicians used to describe the fetus and their pregnant patients’ relationship to it. She will also consult the Countway’s collection of obstetrics guides from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as the papers of M. Judah Folkman as they relate to thalidomide.