Katrina Jirik

Ph.D. Candidate
Program in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine
University of Minnesota

2012 to 2013
Dissertation Research Fellow

American Institutions for the Feeble-minded from 1875 to 1920: a Reinterpretation

Abstract: Management of institutions established for the feeble-minded in the United States was often in the hands of physicians. This led to a particular doctor-patient relationship at a time of significant change in standards of care for people with special needs. These specialized institutions represent an arena of evolving medical care for health issues such as seizures and tuberculosis, along with public health concerns, that has not been well explored. Female physicians were actively recruited to work in these institutions at a time when employment options were limited. The mid-Atlantic region had a number of important facilities, many of which had leaders who were interested in education as well as maintenance of the population. Work in several libraries and archives is central to the dissertation that investigates a new dimension of the gendered and medical activities in institutions for the feeble-minded from 1875 to 1920. Read Kate's report on her PACHS-sponsored research here.