Arts & Sciences, Graduate & Professional Studies

Doctoral student in history wins prestigious 2024 Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Fellowship

Melanie Lorenz, a doctoral candidate in the Department of History, was recently awarded a 2024 Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Fellowship. The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi annually awards 15 dissertation fellowships of $10,000 each to active members who are doctoral candidates and are completing dissertations.

Lorenz’s research on foreign-born midwives explores intersections between Americans’ ideas about immigration, gender roles and medical practices at the turn of the 20th century. Using records from state boards of health records, midwife registers, newspapers, birth records and contemporary medical journals, she investigates the personal consequences of the medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth for midwives.

Although these women had received professional training in Europe, as immigrants their roles were attacked both by male doctors and nativists who presented midwifery as unhygienic and obsolete — frankly un-American — compared to their obstetrical practices. Lorenz’s research reveals these women’s experiences and those of their immigrant communities who were pressured to adapt and assimilate to American culture.