Women Healers: Gender, Authority, and Medicine in Early Philadelphia

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In her eighteenth-century medical recipe manuscript, the Philadelphia healer Elizabeth Coates Paschall developed an extensive healing practice unprescedented for the age. As the premier city of medicine and science in the early United States, Philadelphia allowed Paschall to flourish as a healer, along with numerous women of European, African, and Native American descent. It was these women who provided the bulk of health care in the greater Philadelphia area for centuries, paving the way for the women who would become the country's first female practitioners.

Spanning a century and a half, Women Healers traces the transmission of European women's medical remedies to the Delaware Valley, where they blended with African and Indigenous women's practices. These hybrid healing cultures were key parts of our scientific knowledge production and supported the remarkable medical breakthroughs of the 19th century.

Drawing on extensive archival research, Susan Brandt explores how women of various classes and ethnicities found power and authority through healing and medicine, all while resisting physicians' attempts to marginalize them.

312 pages. Hardcover.

About the Author
Susan H. Brandt is a Lecturer in the Department of History at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.