Banking on the Body: Milk Banks, Blood Banks, and Sperm Banks, 1910-1980


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History of Science


This is a history of human bodily fluid banks in the United States, focusing on three episodes in which such body products became market commodities between 1910 and 1980. It investigates the Progressive Era origins of human milk banks, the development of blood banks during World War II, and the late twentieth century emergence of sperm banks. Each case study involves the histories of biomedical research, technology, and law, and together, the studies illuminate questions of gender, race, and the body. These comparative studies amount to a history of commodification of the body in the twentieth-century United States, providing a way to understand American identity and experience and contributing to transnational discussions about the use and ownership of human body parts.