Historical Perspectives on Reducing Maternal Mortality Part I: Pare Lorentz’s “Fight For Life” and the Maternal Health Movement of the Interwar Years”

Speaker: Bert Hansen, Ph.D. Thursday, October 2, 5:30 PM New York Academy of Medicine

The New York Academy of Medicine’s Section on the History of Medicine and Public Health is pleased to announce its 2008-2009 series of public lectures. This season’s events comprise two mini-series: one on changing concepts of aging and health; the other, marking the 75th anniversary of the publication of NYAM’s groundbreaking 1933 study “Maternal Mortality in New York City,” traces efforts to reduce maternal mortality.

We begin on October 2 with a presentation of the motion picture “The Fight For Life,” by master documentary filmmaker Pare Lorentz, and based on portions of Paul De Kruif’s 1938 book of the same name. Bert Hansen, PhD, Professor of History at Baruch College of The City University of New York, will introduce the film. One of Professor Hansen’s chief research interests is the history of how scientific and medical knowledge is disseminated to the general public.

“Fight for Life” mixes both documentary and fictional filmmaking as it tells the story of the pioneering Chicago Maternity Center. The New York Times review of the film praised it as being “as dramatic as life itself.” “Something must be wrong with Mr. Lorentz,” the review continued, “for he seems to feel that the screen can be employed as a window through which the world about us can be seen…that information is not dull because it is information, that simple things–things like birth and death and hunger and ignorance and hope and dedication to service–actually can be engrossing and dramatic….”

The series of events continues on October 30, with a talk by Jacqueline Wolf, from Ohio University: “Despite the Risk: Lay and Medical Perceptions of Obstetric Anesthesia,” and concludes on December 2, with a talk by Ann M. Starrs, President of Family Care International, on international efforts on reducing maternal mortality in recent decades.

These events open to the public. To register, visit http://www.nyam.org/events .

Save the Dates: The New York Academy of Medicine Section on the History of Medicine and Public Health 2008-2009 Public Lecture Series

I. Historical Perspectives on Reducing Maternal Mortality Thursday, October 02, 2008 Bert Hansen, Ph.D.: “Fight For Life”: A Film by Pare Lorenz

Thursday, October 30, 2008 Jacqueline Wolf, Ph.D.: Despite the Risk: Lay and Medical Perceptions of Obstetric Anesthesia

Tuesday, December 02, 2008 Ann Starrs, speaking on International Efforts to Reduce Maternal Mortality

II. Changing Perspectives on Healthy Aging

Thursday, February 05, 2009 Jesse Ballenger, speaking on Mental Health and the Elderly

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 Jack Rowe, speaking on The Concept of “Healthy Aging”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 Linda Fried, speaking on Engaging the “Social Utility” of the Elderly

Monday, April 06, 2009 Elizabeth Siegel Watkins, “The Estrogen Elixir: Women, Hormone Replacement, and the Predicament of Aging”

Thursday, May 07, 2009 Charles Rosenberg, speaking on The Historian’s Perspective on Concepts of Aging and Health

For more information about NYAM programs in the history of medicine, visit our website at http://www.nyam.org/histmed , write [email protected] , or call 212.822.7313.

Historical programs at NYAM are supported by the Friends of the Rare Book Room. Please join the Friends! Download a membership form at http://www.nyam.org/initiatives/docs/FRBR_Renewal.pdf .