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Second half 19th century has been called golden age scienc

This website was developed to encourage the exploration of American health history during the middle years of the 20th century, the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

  1. What makes these years a golden age of medicine?
  2. During the same years, cancer, heart disease and a host of other chronic health conditions remained significant problems for the American health care system with its hospital based, acute care orientation. Some would have it begin as early as the bacteriological revolution of the late 19th century.
  3. The materials selected for inclusion reflect only a small portion of the resources available for studying this era of American health and medical history. For interested mid-twentieth century observers, there was no lack of evidence to support a characterization of their time as one of medical triumph and advancement in American health.
  4. What is the status of the medical profession during this era?

During these years the experience and the practice of medicine changed dramatically in the United States, as did the structure of the health care delivery system. Our goal is to arouse your curiosity about some of these changes, so that you will be motivated to investigate how and why they took place.

The materials selected for inclusion reflect only a small portion of the resources available for studying this era of American health and medical history. Chosen for their ability to evoke important aspects of a past time, the wide variety of images, documents, tables and graphs presented here require close scrutiny.

The questions and writing exercises that accompany this material were designed to aid you in this process. Navigating these web units is an experience that is part guided tour and part do-it-yourself project. The middle of the 20th century has often been described as a golden age of scientific advancement and miraculous medical breakthroughs, as well as an era in which the medical profession and the institutions it controlled enjoyed especially high public regard.

They and the scores of others who have written about and analyzed the different aspects of American health culture during this era did not always agree on the exact parameters of this age of miracles. Some would have it begin as early as the bacteriological revolution of the late 19th century. Others look to the flowering of scientific research and pharmaceutical development that is associated with World War I, and still others point to the changes in medical education and public health often associated with the Progressive era.

Similarly, there is a lack of agreement about a suitable end point for the Golden Age, although there is a fairly widespread consensus that it is over by the late 1960s and early 1970s. Taking these variations into account, we have focused our attention on the 3 decades at the core of most accounts of the golden age: The varying answers to this question depend substantially on the kind of evidence the observer favored.

Or they emphasize the popular culture image of doctors, nurses and medical scientists found in novels and movies which often cast them in a heroic light.

Introduction: Searching for a Golden Age

For interested mid-twentieth century observers, there was no lack of evidence to support a characterization of their time as one of medical triumph and advancement in American health. For many this was an era in which no problem seemed unsolvable.

There were no diseases that science could not ultimately defeat, no surgical procedure or medical product that could not be mastered, and no technology that could not be harnessed.

And yet, this was the period in American health history rocked by some dramatic medical scandals, such as the 1937 sulfanilamide poisoning, which cost the lives of nearly a hundred citizens. This was also an era in which hospitals and the latest technology remained clustered in the larger urban areas, while many of the poorer and more rural parts of the country were facing shortages in medical basics, including doctors and nurses.

  1. For many this was an era in which no problem seemed unsolvable. Programs such as Kraft Television Theatre , Playhouse 90 , and later Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone brought a level of writing to American commercial television that would rarely be seen in the next several decades.
  2. For many this was an era in which no problem seemed unsolvable.
  3. Chosen for their ability to evoke important aspects of a past time, the wide variety of images, documents, tables and graphs presented here require close scrutiny. This website was developed to encourage the exploration of American health history during the middle years of the 20th century, the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

During the same years, cancer, heart disease and a host of other chronic health conditions remained significant problems for the American health care system with its hospital based, acute care orientation. Rising costs of many kinds of medical care and the economic disruptions of a devastating economic depression and a world war further complicated the health lives of many Americans.

  • What was the nature of the doctor-patient relationship?
  • His most popular novel, The Rise of Silas Lapham , depicts a man who falls from materialistic fortune by his own mistakes;
  • Rising costs of many kinds of medical care and the economic disruptions of a devastating economic depression and a world war further complicated the health lives of many Americans;
  • In the following sections of our website you will find materials that will help you explore these questions and other aspects of American health culture in the 1930s,1940s and 1950s;
  • Does their status have anything to do with the characterization of this period as a golden age?
  • What was the health experience of the average American?

How could the years of the Great Depression and the Second World War be part of a golden age in American health history?? In the following sections of our website you will find materials that will help you explore these questions and other aspects of American health culture in the 1930s,1940s and 1950s. Please feel free to indulge your own curiosity, but be aware that we have focused our attention on the following questions: What makes these years a golden age of medicine?

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What is the nature of the evidence for and against this proposition? Who thought of it as a golden age? Which ones -- general practitioners? Did public health officials? Why did these various groups hold the opinions they did? Does it matter that they see this era differently? Who is responsible for health in the golden age?

Is it the individual? What is the status of the medical profession during this era?

19th century in literature

Does their status have anything to do with the characterization of this period as a golden age? What is the nature of medical authority in this era?

How important is science to this authority? What claims does scientific medicine make on the American imagination and economy in this era? How important is science to the golden age? What was the health experience of the average American? Who did they consult when they had health related questions? What was the nature of the doctor-patient relationship?