Ethics and/in the History of Medicine and the Human Sciences

This working group focuses on ethical and theoretical concerns with conducting research in the history of medicine and the human sciences, broadly conceived, as well as on questions of writing and naming practices; citation practices; aspects of access to source material; and the roles of historians in public-facing and activist scholarship. Our intention is to also bring historians into conversation with archivists, librarians, and curators, to discuss and develop nuanced strategies for accessing, analyzing, and archiving sensitive material, human remains, and patient data. We also intend to address the violence and colonialism of our historical actors, as it is often contained and continued within archives, and to develop strategies for working with such materials and addressing such histories without perpetuating this violence.


Group Conveners

  • DrKylieSmith's picture

    Kylie Smith


    Kylie Smith is Associate Professor and Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow for Nursing and the Humanities at Emory University and the 2021 Presidents Humanities Fellow at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. Her previous book Talking Therapy: Knowledge and Power in American Psychiatric Nursing (Rutgers University Press, 2020) has won two book of the year awards. Her new project Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South is supported by the National Library of Medicine G13 award. She is the current Editor in Chief of Nursing Philosophy and has been book review editor for Nursing History Review and Chair of Awards and Board Member of the American Association for the History of Nursing.



  • cthompson's picture

    Courtney Thompson


    Courtney Thompson is assistant professor of the history of science and medicine and women’s and gender history in the Department of History at Mississippi State University, where she also chairs the Medical Humanities Certificate program. Her first book, An Organ of Murder: Crime, Violence, and Phrenology in Nineteenth-Century America, was published in February 2021 with Rutgers University Press; she has also published articles and short essays in Eighteenth-Century Studies; Social History of Medicine; Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences; Isis; and Endeavour. She currently serves as the Book Review Editor for Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences.


Please set your timezone at

Consortium Respectful Behavior Policy

Participants at Consortium activities will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics such as age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, educational background, or any other characteristic protected by law. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.

Participants may send reports or concerns about violations of this policy to

Upcoming Meetings

There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.

Past Meetings

  • June 8, 2023

    During this meeting, we will discuss the "Research" section of the planned volume, featuring the following essays: 

    • Marco Ramos, "Red Tape"
    • Lauren MacIvor Thompson, "Legal Considerations"
    • Tracey Loughran, "Oral History"
    • Jonathan Sadowsky, "Difficult History"
    • Eli Nelson, "Indigenous Methodologies"
    • Stephen Casper, "Expert Witnessing"

    The essay drafts will be uploaded on June 1. 

  • May 4, 2023

    During this meeting, we will discuss the "Museums & Archives" section of the planned volume, featuring the following essays: 

    • Melissa Grafe, "Specimens"
    • Aisling Shalvey, "Human Remains"
    • Katrina Jirik, "Disability"
    • Amanda Mahoney, "Stewardship"
    • Shelley Saggar, "Decolonizing Archives and Museums"
    • Aparna Nair, "Commercialization of Remains and Records"

    The essay drafts will be uploaded on April 27. 

  • April 13, 2023

    During this meeting, we will discuss the "Historian" section of the planned volume, featuring the following essays: 

    • Barron Lerner, "Positionality"
    • Richard McKay, "Becoming an Ethical Historian"
    • Kylie Smith, "Reparatory History"
    • Adam Biggs, "Historical Therapeutics"
    • Nicole Schroeder, "Accessibility"
    • Jess Dillard-Wright, "Advocacy and Activism"

    The essay drafts will be uploaded on April 6. 

  • March 9, 2023

    During this meeting, we will discuss the "Teaching" section of the planned volume, featuring the following essays: 

    • Antoine Johnson & Gloria Lockett, "Decolonizing the Syllabus"
    • Beatriz Pichel, "Images and Primary Sources"
    • Sharrona Pearl, "Grading and Assignments"
    • Cornelia Lambert, "Constructive Discomfort"
    • Shannon Withycombe, "Teaching Graduate Students about Ethics"
    • Lan Li, "Ethics of Teaching Future Health Professionals" 

    The essay drafts will be uploaded on March 2. 

  • February 9, 2023

    During this meeting, we will discuss the "Writing" section of the planned volume, featuring the following essays: 

    • Michaela Clark, "Images"
    • Jessica Martucci and Britt Dahlberg, "Digital Humanities"
    • Ayah Nuriddin, "Silences and Violences"
    • Claire Clark & Amy Sullivan, "Language"
    • Courtney Thompson, "Citation" 


  • January 12, 2023

    Ahmed Ragab will be joining us to discuss the reviewers' initial impressions of the Do Less Harm proposal and next steps for the volume project.

  • December 8, 2022


  • November 10, 2022

    The Working Group will NOT meet on Nov. 10.

  • October 13, 2022

    In this meeting, we will be revisiting the problem of the "great doctor" for historians of medicine, as well as the question of accountability for historians of medicine (and others). The readings are: 
    Susan M. Reverby and David Rosner, "'Beyond 'the Great Doctors,'" in Health Care in America: Essays in Social History, Reverby and Rosney, eds. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1979), 3-16.  
    Susan M. Reverby and David Rosner, "'Beyond 'the Great Doctors' Revisited: A Generation of the "New" Social History of Medicine," in Locating Medical History, Huisman and Warner, eds. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 167-193. 

  • September 8, 2022

    During this meeting, we will be checking in on how everyone's writing process has been going for Do Less Harm. We will also be discussing presentism and positionality, following the recent AHA debates, with the following readings: 
    James Sweet, "Is History History?" Perspectives on History, August 17, 2022.
    William Horne, "White Americans Fail to Address Their Family Histories," The Activist History Review, February 9, 2018,
    Tyler Stovall, "Irena's Lamp," Perspectives on History, December 1, 2017,
    Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., "Folly's Antidote," New York Times, Jan. 1, 2007,