Gifted Women and Skilled Practitioners: Gender and Healing Authority in the Delaware Valley, 1740-1830


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation uncovers women healers’ hidden practices and their vital role in the early mid-Atlantic healthcare marketplace. It challenges the current historiography that marginalizes women healers and narrates their declining medical authority. Some women found new sources of healing authority, including female education, women’s authorship, the culture of sensibility, access to scientific print media, and Quakers’ alternative gender norms. Laywomen healers provided affordable healthcare and participated in a flourishing transatlantic self-help medical print culture and a consumer-driven healthcare marketplace that challenged physicians’ monopoly on medical knowledge and practice. This project explores the contingencies inherent in the development of the current hierarchical healthcare system.