Aimee Slaughter

Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Science, Technology and Medicine
University of Minnesota

2012 to 2013
Dissertation Research Fellow

Radium Therapy in America, 1898-1939

Abstract: Radium therapy was a lively and contested area of scientific medicine in early twentieth century America. As early as 1903, and through the Second World Wa, radium was largely used to treat cancers, but also used with other diseases. Radium therapy represents an area where physicians and physicists worked together. In my dissertation I explore this fascinating collaboration, beginning during the American radium craze at the beginning of the century and following it through the development of artificial radioisotopes just before the outbreak of World War II. Historiographically occupying a space between history of physics and history of medicine, this is an area which has not received the attention it deserves — radiotherapy was not, as it has often been presented, a post-WWII phenomenon. Central to my story are the themes of popularization and professionalization. The enormous popularity of radium spurred public, scientific, medical, industrial, and government interest in radium therapy, and all of these interests shaped the course of radium therapy in America. Read Aimee's report on her PACHS-sponsored research here.