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Current Events and Announcements:

Call for Nominations for the 2014 Alma Dea Morani, M.D. Renaissance Woman Award

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine is pleased to accept nominations for our 2014 Alma Dea Morani, M.D. Renaissance Woman Award. This Award will honor an outstanding woman physician or scientist in North America:

  • who has furthered the practice and understanding of medicine in our lifetime and made significant contributions outside of medicine; for example, in the humanities, arts or social sciences,
  • whose determination and spirit have carried her beyond traditional pathways in medicine and science; and
  • who challenges the status quo with a passion for learning.

To submit a nomination, please complete the nomination form and return to the Foundation office.

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2013 Fellowship Awardee

Photo of Dr. Ciara BreathnachDr. Ciara Breathnach, Ph.D.
Lecturer in History, Director of the History of Family Project
University of Limerick, Ireland


Dr. Breathnach has published on Irish socio-economic and health histories in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as contributed to numerous research projects and papers. She has a Ph.D. in history from the National University of Ireland and an MA of History from the National University of Ireland.


Her Research

Her research focuses on how the poor experienced, engaged with and negotiated medical services in Ireland and in North America from 1860-1912. It builds on Breathnach’s wider studies on the family unit and the social history of medicine in Ireland and will help to advance her hypothesis that the rural Irish female was slow to medicalize, not only for socio-economic reasons, but also for reasons of personal agency (Breathnach, 2011a, 2011b, 2012a). Using evidence from Boston dispensary and various hospital records this research aims to show that Irish women continued to present as a problematic group long after the ethnic associations with cholera and typhoid outbreaks of earlier decades had dissipated (Kraut, 1994; Rosenberg 1997).

Breathnach’s study examines migratory waves against trends in medical and social modernity processes. Combining pre-existing hypotheses from migration history and history of family, this study argues that because most Irish immigrants came from pre and proto-industrial households, they occupied a ‘transition phase’ of the social development process and were unfamiliar with modern medicine. Displaced by agricultural transition, and changes in marriage and inheritance patterns, Irish female migration came to outnumber male by the 1890s. Even after economic convergence had been reached in terms of real wages the rural Irish female continued to emigrate in significant numbers for economic, social and cultural reasons. These gendered migration trends have been well explored and established by economic and social historians but the history of their medical acculturation has remained largely ignored. By contrast the strain of Irish immigrants on the mental health system has received due consideration. This focused study of records held at the Archives for Women in Medicine at the Countway Library will be weighed against other socio-economic evidence to establish how problematic groups such as the Irish poor affected and shaped medical care in Boston.

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Wilma Siegel Named Foundation Board President

Photo of Wilma Siegel, FHWIM PresidentThe Foundation Board is pleased to announce that Wilma Bulkin Siegel, M.D. has been named President of the Foundation beginning July 1, 2012. Wilma Bulkin Siegel, M.D. graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and received her medical degree in 1962 at Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. She has had a distinguished career as a prominent oncologist in New York City and is noted as establishing one of the first Hospices in the state of New York, and one of the first to accept AIDS patients.
» More about Dr. Siegel
» Download the Press Release