March 6, 1991

Women, Health, and Medicine in America: A Historical Handbook

Author Affiliations

The Medical Center of Delaware Wilmington

The Medical Center of Delaware Wilmington


edited by Rima D. Apple, 580 pp, $75, ISBN 0-8240-8447-0, New York, NY, Garland Publishing Inc, 1990.

JAMA. 1991;265(9):1184. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460090134049

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This book is a collection of 20 essays by contemporary historians and sociologists designed to provide an overview of the available literature dealing with the health experiences of women in America. It was conceived to be a single source to which historians and other scholars could turn for a survey of current concepts in women's health history.

The book succeeds in providing a descriptive anthology of important historical papers, books, and monographs on varied subjects including orthodox health care (chapters on women and mental illness, gynecology, obstetrics, and reproductive health) and health care providers (chapters on midwives, nurses, physicians, and pharmacists). The extensive "Bibliography by Topic" chapter will be of special use to scholars. Among the contributors, 22 of 26 are female.

The majority of the chapters contain social comment, which seems to me not directly pertinent to the stated purpose of the book. The chapter on nurses, a well-written