Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Before the Birth of One of Her Children

I recently found a link to a poem written by the first poet and first female writer to be printed in the British North American Colonies.  Anne Bradstreet was born in England in 1612.  She immigrated to America in 1630 with her husband Simon as part of a fleet of Puritan immigrants.

Bradstreet suffered from smallpox as a child, an illness that went on to cause her paralysis in later life.  She was also stricken with tuberculosis in later life.  Despite this she gave birth to eight children and lived to the age of sixty.

Bradstreet's works reflected on the hardships of her life in the Colonies, and were about her husband and her children.  They give insight into the Puritan faith, in particular its strict moral code.

One of the most interesting of her poems is entitled, ' Before the Birth of One of her Children'.

The simple verse betrays not only Bradstreet's deep love for her children, but also the inherent fear and respect with which she held childbirth.  It gives great insight into the mental prepartion mothers of her time underwent before giving birth. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

George V: Mercy or Convenience?

George V grandfather of the current British monarch, Elizabeth II was born in 1865 and died on the 20th January 1936.  He reigned from the 6th May 1910 until his death.  He is notable for being the reigning monarch during the first world war. 

(George V)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mrs. Papanicolaou

Most women in the developed world will be familiar with the concept of a pap smear.  A pap smear involves an examination every few years of a women's cervix where cells are wiped and smeared onto a slide.  These are then examined for early signs of cancer.  Developed in 1923 it is the most successful screening test for cancer in history, dropping death rates by 80% in those countries with population wide screening programs.

The test was invented by a Greek physiologist named Georgios Papanicolaou. He was born on the island of Evia on the 13th May 1883.  He attended the University of Munich and achieved his PhD in zoology in 1910.   He then eloped with the woman he would spend the next 47 years of his life with, Andromache Mavroyeni, who went by Mary.  The two returned to Greece in 1912, where Georgios served in the Balkan Wars.  Following this, he and Mary immigrated to New York City in 1912.

Although initially playing violin in restaurants to pay the bills, Georgios quickly found work at Cornell Medical College slowly rising up the ranks.  It was here that he made the observation that eventually led to the pap smear.