Past Meeting

This online Society meeting was held at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday May 10, 2022
co-sponsored by the Tredyffrin Public Library as an online web seminar and in-person.

Women Healers in Early Philadelphia

presented by Susan H. Brandt

In her 2022 book Women Healers: Gender, Authority, and Medicine in Early Philadelphia, Susan Brandt recovers women practitioners' lives and essential medical work from the city's founding that have been largely unexplored by historians. Spanning a century and a half, Women Healers traces the transmission of European women's medical remedies to the Delaware Valley where they blended with African and Indigenous women's practices, forming hybrid healing cultures. Drawing on extensive archival research, Brandt demonstrates that women healers were not inflexible traditional practitioners destined to fall victim to the onward march of Enlightenment science, capitalism, and medical professionalization. Instead, women found new sources of healing authority, engaged in the consumer medical marketplace, and resisted physicians' attempts to marginalize them.

In her talk, Brandt discussed the importance of libraries, women's education, and popular health movements in the development of women's healing authority. She described how women healers participated actively in medical and scientific knowledge production while providing the bulk of medical care for early Philadelphians.

Susan H. Brandt received her undergraduate degree from Duke University and her Ph.D. in History from Temple University. She completed a fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania McNeil Center for Early American Studies. Her dissertation on women healers was awarded the 2016 Lerner-Scott Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in U.S. Women's History by the Organization of American Historians.


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