Women Radiobiologists and ‘Standard Man’

By Brad Bolman In the waning years of 1940, Mary Jane Cook began work in the Health Physics department of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, named…
By Brad Bolman In the waning years of 1940, Mary Jane Cook began work in the Health Physics department of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, named for the dusty Manhattan Project boomtown that hosted it. One of her primary responsibilities was to collect data relevant for determining the “maximum permissible internal dose” of radiation for reactor workers. Following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the health effects of radiation were of acute interest to military and civilian defense planners. Many officials imagined a future of unbounded civilian nuclear power, while others simply focused on more powerful nuclear weapons. Data concerning radiation safety was essential to protect citizens in the new “Atomic” era, and Cook’s research on permissible doses would be a critical contribution. Cook traveled across the country to morgues gathering organ weight data during civilian autopsies and tabulated these… Read More...

Welcome to Life as a Stepford Wife: The Politics of Self-Care in the 19th Century

By Robert Davis Beauty and self-care has always been in conversation with contemporary politics, especially regarding race, gender, class, and privilege. While the concept of…
By Robert Davis Beauty and self-care has always been in conversation with contemporary politics, especially regarding race, gender, class, and privilege. While the concept of “self-care” has taken a prominent place in American society since the 2016 election, in the late 19th century, an explosion of cheap, readily available print advice books encouraged regular Americans to improve their bodies for greater health and well-being by conforming to white, middle-class beauty norms. One such book, the popular 1882 How to Become Beautiful; or, Secrets of the Toilet and of Health reveals how Americans framed self-care as an imperative that encouraged women to forsake the public sphere to strive for an unattainable, high-stakes ideal at home. What makes How to Become Beautiful unique is that it was not published in mainstream forums like middle-class women’s magazines. Instead, a dime novel press printed… Read More...