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Health & Wellness

Before the modern medical age, women within many communities served as midwives. In the late 19th century, the rise of formal medical training sparked a change: doctors encouraged women to give birth at hospitals, rather than at home. In the 20th century, medical authority was largely assumed by men until the 1960s when Title IX mandated that all federally funded school programs accept women.

Collection Objects

Learn the stories behind these objects or see more health and wellness objects from our collections.

Mary Walker wears the sort of unrestricted clothing she believed was most healthy - a dress with a flared skirt over top of pants.

Freethinking Dr. Mary Walker

 Tantaquidgeon and Nanticoke leaders stand on the steps of the Delaware State Capitol.

Preserving Native American Traditions and Beliefs

Lacks, smiling, is depicted standing in the center of the image.

The Controversial, Lifesaving Legacy of Henrietta Lacks

Metal pruning shears with a red plastic grip.

Michelle Obama Taught Good Nutrition with the White House Garden

Three monthly cycles of 20 pills are contained in Ortho’s trademarked DialPak dispenser.

The Pill Was a Game Changer

Green book cover and white text reading "SILENT SPRING."

Rachel Carson's Research and Writings Rallied the Nation around Environmentalism

Conversation Kit

Let's Talk! African American Women Medical Professionals
African American Women Medical Professionals Teaching and Discussion Guide

Grades 6–12. Time: Variable (1–2 class periods). Aligned to C3 Framework for Social Studies Standards.

In this lesson students will investigate and discover the importance of African American medical professionals to the African American community. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to describe how the participation of African American women as midwives, nurses, and physicians has changed over time.


This video highlights the influence of Regina Lee's upbringing as an Asian American Immigrant and how growing up in Chinatown, NY, during the 50s, 60s, and 70s shaped her philanthropy.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was interviewed by Jan Smith, for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. Sotamayor discusses how managing type 1 diabetes as a child taught her discipline and creativity.

Smithsonian American Women book cover.

Smithsonian American Women

Remarkable objects and stories of strength, ingenuity, and vision from the National Collection.

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