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Mary Breckinridge: The Frontier Nursing Service and Rural Health in Appalachia


Goan also maintains that her case study contributes to the history of American medicine by demonstrating the "ways in which scientific medicine established its supremacy over folk healing and" allows readers "to witness the struggles that developed as competing groups of medical practitioners sought legitimacy and to gain patients' trust" (9). [...] sections of the text can be incorporated into an array of classroom settings including courses on women and medicine, the history of the U.S. South, and the history of medicine.

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									230     Book Reviews

despite professional reversals and government apologies, still echoes in discussions of
designer babies, grumbling about the costs of social programs and attempts to calculate
the financial value of life.

Edward Slavishak, PhD
Assistant Professor, History
Susquehanna University
Selinsgrove, PA 17870

Mary Breckinridge: The Frontier Nursing Service
and Rural Health in Appalachia
By Melanie Beals Goan
(Chapel Hill, North Carolina:
University of North Carolina Press, 2008)
(348 pages; $45.00 cloth)

Melanie Beals Goan’s Mary Breckinridge: The Frontier Nursing Service and Rural Health
in Appalachia traces the life of Mary Breckinridge and her establishment of the Frontier
Nursing Service in rural Kentucky. Goan does a fine job placing Breckinridge, her life, her
ideas, and her achievements in their historical and cultural contexts. The author admirably
shows how this historical case study of Mary Breckinridge and the Frontier Nursing Service
enlarges our understanding of Appalachia, social reform, and scientific medicine in the
twentieth century.
      Coming from a long line of prestigious American leaders, Mary Breckinridge estab-
lished the Frontier Nursing Service, an organization designed to meet the medical, emo-
tional, and social needs of the residents of rural Kentucky. Originally intended to serve
women and children, the Frontier Nursing Service soon offered medical care to the men of
Leslie County too. Breckinridge emphasized the right of every human being to health care,
realized that nurses had important roles in providing that care, and appreciated the wisdom
of preventive medicine (252).
      Goan’s biography of Breckinridge and her institutional history of the Frontier Nurs-
ing Service pay close attention to the historical and cultural context from which Breck-
inridge and the organizat
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