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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 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

Outdoor scene of an incarceration camp, including telephone wires across the camp, two dwelling units, and a row of trees. There are no people pictured.

Kay Sekimachi Found Solace in Art While Interned

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.


In New York City's Chinatown, college student Regina Lee and other volunteers organized a neighborhood health fair to improve health literacy in their community. 

The Women's Collective in Washington, D.C., holds a "Call My Name" quilting workshop to include women of color in the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Hear how this project promotes representation and healing in the community.

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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