Category: feminism

Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, women were disproportionately given lobotomies during the psychiatric procedure’s heyday. From the 1940s through the mid-1950s, men slightly outnumbered women as patients in American state hospitals, yet female patients made up about 60 percent of those who underwent lobotomy. Many psychiatrists believed it was easier to return women after operation to a life of domestic duties at home than it was to post-operatively rehabilitate men for a career as a wage earner.

Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, women were disproportionately given lobotomies during the psychiatric procedure’s heyday. From the 1940s through the mid-1950s, men slightly outnumbered women as patients in American state hospitals, yet female patients made up about 60 percent of those who underwent lobotomy. Many psychiatrists believed it was easier to return women after operation to a life of domestic duties at home than it was to post-operatively rehabilitate men for a career as a wage earner.

The Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, February 26, 1914

Durham Morning Herald, North Carolina, March 27, 1914

Journal and Courier, Lafayette, Indiana, December 9, 1921

Journal and Courier,

Lafayette, Indiana, December 9, 1921

The Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, February 26, 1914

Brooklyn Life, New York, August 14, 1915

Brooklyn Life, New York, August 14, 1915

Margaret Full was a well-educated native of Massachusetts in the early 1800s. Born in 1810, she joined the New York Tribune as its literary critic in her early 30s and quickly amassed a following. She became something of a celebrity in her native New England, and was popular enough that she became the first woman allowed access to the library at Harvard College! (Which says more about Harvard than about Full, unfortunately.) She argued for equal access to education for women, prison reform, and the abolition of slavery.  Her views ended up in a book, “Woman in the Nineteenth Century” in 1845.

One year later, the New York Times sent Fuller to Europe as its first female correspondent, for her to cover the democratic revolution in Italy led by Giuseppe Mazzini. There, she fell in love with revolutionary Giovanni Ossoli, giving birth to their child – scandalously without marrying Ossoli. The three were en route back to America in 1850 when their ship foundered off Fire Island, New York, drowning all three. Her friend, writer Henry David Thoreau, searched the beach for Fuller’s personal effects but none were ever found.