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In 1925 Mary Breckinridge (1881-1965) founded the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS), a public health organization in eastern Kentucky providing nurses on horseback to reach families who otherwise would not receive health care. Through this public health organization, she introduced nurse-midwifery to the United States and created a highly successful, cost-effective model for rural health care delivery that has been replicated throughout the world. In this first comprehensive biography of the FNS founder, Melanie Beals Goan provides a revealing look at the challenges Breckinridge faced as she sought reform and the contradictions she embodied. Goan explores Breckinridge's perspective on gender roles, her charisma, her sense of obligation to live a life of service, her eccentricity, her religiosity, and her application of professionalized, science-based health care ideas. Highly intelligent and creative, Breckinridge also suffered from depression, was by modern standards racist, and fought progress as she aged--sometimes to the detriment of those she served. Breckinridge optimistically believed that she could change the world by providing health care to women and children. She ultimately changed just one corner of the world, but her experience continues to provide powerful lessons about the possibilities and the limitations of reform.
This is the autobiography of Mary Breckinridge, the woman who founded the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS) in the mountains of eastern Kentucky in 1925. Riding out on horseback, the FNS nurse-midwives proved that high mortality rates and malnutrition did not need to be the norm in rural areas. By their example and through their graduates, the FNS exacted a lasting influence on family health care throughout the world.
There was a time when the average American woman was more likely to die from childbirth than from any other condition except tuberculosis. This was especially true in areas where hospitals and quality medical care were scarce or nonexistent. But deep in the rolling hills of eastern Kentucky’s Cumberland Range, one woman almost single-handedly changed those dismal figures. Her name was Mary Breckinridge, and her goal was to introduce quality, professionally trained midwifery to the United States. The Frontier Nursing Service, opened in 1925 in Leslie County, Kentucky, set out to meet the health needs of women and infants in one of the poorest regions of America. This book tells the story of Breckinridge’s unparalleled dedication to midwifery and provides a historical overview of the first 40 years of the Frontier Nursing Service.
In the first comprehensive exploration of the history and practice of folk medicine in the Appalachian region, Anthony Cavender melds folklore, medical anthropology, and Appalachian history and draws extensively on oral histories and archival sources from the nineteenth century to the present. He provides a complete tour of ailments and folk treatments organized by body systems, as well as information on medicinal plants, patent medicines, and magico-religious beliefs and practices. He investigates folk healers and their methods, profiling three living practitioners: an herbalist, a faith healer, and a Native American healer. The book also includes an appendix of botanicals and a glossary of folk medical terms. Demonstrating the ongoing interplay between mainstream scientific medicine and folk medicine, Cavender challenges the conventional view of southern Appalachia as an exceptional region isolated from outside contact. His thorough and accessible study reveals how Appalachian folk medicine encompasses such diverse and important influences as European and Native American culture and America's changing medical and health-care environment. In doing so, he offers a compelling representation of the cultural history of the region as seen through its health practices.
Scholars of southern Appalachia have tended to focus their research on men, particularly white men. While there have been a few important studies of Appalachian women, no one book has offered a broad overview across time and place. With this collection, editors Connie Park Rice and Marie Tedesco redress this imbalance, telling the stories of these women and calling attention to the varied demographics of those who call the mountains home. The essays that make up Women of the Mountain South contradict and debunk entrenched stereotypes of Appalachian women as poor and white, and they bring to life women too often neglected in the history of the region. Each focuses on a particular individual or a particular group, but taken as a whole, they illustrate the diversity of women who live in the region and the richness of their life experiences. The Mountain South has been home to Cherokee, African American, Latina, and white women, both rich and poor. Civil rights and gay rights advocates, environmental and labor activists, prostitutes, and coal miners — all have worked, played, and loved in the place called the Mountain South and added to the fullness of its history and culture. The collection is supplemented with key documents that make the volume ideal for the classroom. Contributors: H. Adam Ackley, Katherine Lane Antolini, Joyce M. Barry, Deborah L. Blackwell, Carletta A. Bush, Wilma A. Dunaway, Barbara J. Howe, John C. Inscoe, Lois Lucas, Penny Messinger, Louis C. Martin, Evelyn Ashley Sorrell, Connie Park Rice, Marie Tedesco, Karen W. Tice, and Jan Voogd.

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