Able-Bodied Womanhood: Personal Health and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Boston

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9780195051247: Able-Bodied Womanhood: Personal Health and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Boston

As urban life and women's roles changed in the 19th century, so did attitudes towards physical health and womanhood. In this case study of health reform in Boston between 1830 and 1900, Martha H. Verbrugge examines three institutions that popularized physiology and exercise among middle-class women: The Ladies' Physiological Institute, Wellesley College, and the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics. Against the backdrop of a national debate about female duties and well-being, this book follows middle-class women as they learned about health and explored the relationship between fitness and femininity. Combining medical and social history, Verbrugge looks at the ordinary women who participated in health reform and analyzes the conflicting messages--both feminist and conservative--projected by the concept of "able-bodied womanhood."

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Review:


"Fascinating...Verbrugge has written an intelligent and entertaining history of women's health reform."--History of Education Quarterly


"Her discussion of each institution is superb, and she also demonstrates a clear understanding of the social context and events in Boston during the period under study....An informative and important contribution."--Journal of Social History


"Verbrugge has provided an insightful, carefully-nuanced contribution to the history of American health reform."--Social History of Medicine


"Verbrugge has brought together an impressive amount and variety of material....Her array of primary sources is exceptionally comprehensive....Makes a valuable multi-disciplinary contribution to the research on this very significant but understudied topic."--The Historian


"Offers a descriptively rich social and intellectual history that makes a significant contribution to the sociology of medicine."--American Journal of Sociology


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