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Say Anarcha : a young woman, a devious surgeon, and the harrowing birth of modern women's health  Cover Image Book Book

Say Anarcha : a young woman, a devious surgeon, and the harrowing birth of modern women's health / J.C. Hallman.

Hallman, J. C., (author.).


"In 1846, a young surgeon, J. Marion Sims ("The Father of Gynecology"), began several years of experimental surgeries on a young enslaved woman known as Anarcha ("The Mother of Gynecology"). This series of procedures--performed without anesthesia and resulting in Anarcha's so-called "cure"--forever altered the path of women's health. Despite brutal practices and failed techniques, Sims proclaimed himself the curer of obstetric fistula, a horrific condition that had stymied the medical world for centuries. Parlaying supposed success to the founding of a new hospital in New York City--where he conducted additional dangerous experiments on Irish women--Sims went on to a profitable career treating gentry and royalty in Europe, becoming one of the world's first celebrity surgeons. Medical text after medical text hailed Anarcha as a pivotal figure in the history of medicine, but little was recorded about the woman herself. Through extensive research, author J.C. Hallman has unearthed the first evidence ever found of Anarcha's life that did not come from Sims's suspect reports. With incredible tenacity, Hallman traced Anarcha's path from her beginnings on a Southern plantation to the backyard clinic where she was subjected to scores of painful surgical experiments, to her years after in Richmond and New York City, and to her final resting place in a lonely Virginia forest. When Hallman first set out to find Anarcha, the world was just beginning to grapple with the history of white supremacy and its connection to racial health disparities exposed by COVID-19 and the disproportionate number of Black women who die while giving birth. In telling the stories of the "Mother" and "Father" of gynecology, Say Anarcha excavates the history of a heroic enslaved woman and deconstructs the biographical smokescreen of a surgeon whom history has falsely enshrined as a heroic pioneer. Kin in spirit to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Hallman's dual biographical narratives tell a single story that corrects errors calcified in history and illuminates the sacrifice of a young woman who changed the world only to be forgotten by it--until now"-- Provided by publisher.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9781250868466
  • ISBN: 1250868467
  • Physical Description: xxiv, 417 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
  • Edition: First edition.
  • Publisher: New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2023.

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references.
Formatted Contents Note:
Introduction: A Better Phantom -- Their Names -- On Sources -- Book One -- Book Two -- Afterword: The Modern Legacy of the Alabama Fistula Experiments.
Subject: Jackson, Anarcha, approximately 1821-1869.
Sims, J. Marion (James Marion), 1813-1883.
Jackson, Anarcha, approximately 1821-1869.
Sims, J. Marion (James Marion), 1813-1883.
Sims, J. Marion (James Marion), 1813-1883.
Human experimentation in medicine > United States > History > 19th century.
Gynecologists > United States > Biography.
Fistula, Vesico-vaginal > Treatment.
Gynecology > History > 19th century.
Medical ethics > United States > History > 19th century.
Enslaved women > United States > Biography.
Fistula, Vesico-vaginal.
Generative organs, Female > Surgery.
Enslaved persons.
Biomedical Research > history.
Vesicovaginal Fistula.
Genital Diseases, Female.
Gynecologic Surgical Procedures.
Gynecology > history.
Ethics, Medical.
Enslaved Persons.
Expérimentation humaine en médecine > États-Unis > Histoire > 19e siècle.
Gynécologues > États-Unis > Biographies.
Fistules vésicovaginales > Traitement.
Gynécologie > Histoire > 19e siècle.
Éthique médicale > États-Unis > Histoire > 19e siècle.
Femmes esclaves > États-Unis > Biographies.
Fistules vésicovaginales.
Organes génitaux femelles > Maladies.
Gynécologie chirurgicale.
Éthique médicale.
enslaved people.
HISTORY / African American & Black.
HISTORY / United States / 19th Century.
HISTORY / Women.
MEDICAL / Medical History & Records.
Human experimentation in medicine.
Medical ethics.
Enslaved women.
United States.
United States.
Genre: Biographies.

Available copies

  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library System. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Public Library.


  • 0 current holds with 1 total copy.
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Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Homer Public Library 618.1 HAL (Text) 000172962 New Books Available -

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