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Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers

Barbara Ehrenreich

Julie Key, Literature Search Specialist

Reason you chose this book

Intrigued by the book’s title and having previously enjoyed a separate work by Barbara Ehrenreich I found this book interesting, emotive and thought provoking.


This 1973 polemic looks at two phases in Western medical history: the witch hunts in medieval Europe including the denouncement of lay women healers as exercising the devil’s ‘magick’, leading to torture and execution sanctioned by church and state; and the attempted male monopolisation of the medical profession in nineteenth century America and the movement to redress the balance. This 2010 edition admits to some ‘overstatements’ in the original but the work remains a challenging and enlightening document. The oppression of women through the ages is brought in to sharp focus here in the context of the healing arts.

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