Simone Caron
Simone Caron
Office: Tribble B-103
Phone: 336.758.5556
Region: United States, World
Theme: Gender/Sexuality/LGBTQ, Science, Medicine, and Technology, Social History


Simone M. Caron joined the faculty at Wake Forest University in 1991 and was chair of the department from 2005 to 2013.  Her research interests span from 1830 to the present and include American medical history, reproductive issues (birth control, abortion, sterilization), midwifery, alcoholic women, unwed mothers, and infanticide.  Her teaching interests center on gender and medical history, the Great Depression, the long decade of the Sixties, and American political, social, economic and cultural history since 1865.  She is the recipient of the Reid-Doyle Prize for Excellence in Teaching, the ODK Award for Contribution to Student Life, and the Jon Reinhardt Prize for Excellence in Teaching.


B.A. Bridgewater State College 1983
M.A. Northeastern University 1985
Ph.D. Clark University 1990

Academic Appointments
Wake Forest University. Professor (2015-); Associate Professor (1997 – 2015); Assistant Professor (1991 – 1997)
The College of William & Mary. Visiting Assistant Professor (1990 – 1991)
University of Massachusetts, Harbor Campus, Visiting Assistant Professor (January – August 1990)
Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Visiting Instructor (1987 – 1990)

Administrative Appointments
Chair of History Department, Wake Forest University, 2005 - 2013.

Click here for the complete CV.


  • HST 102 Europe and the Modern World
    This course will place Europe in the broader world context and introduce students to the study of European civilizations through an analysis of political, social, economic, cultural, and intellectual aspects of history in the modern era.  In keeping with the liberal arts tradition, this course will help students develop core skills for their academic career, namely writing, analysis, and discussion techniques.
  • FYS 100 The Great Depression through the Eyes of American Novelists
    This seminar will engage students in a discussion of the various responses to the dire economic situation during the Great Depression.  The novels selected represent a wide array of political and economic critiques of the New Deal.  As such, this course fulfills the intent of the FYS to analyze opposing viewpoints.
  • FYS 100 Controversies in American Medical History
    This course examines controversies in American medical history from the colonial period to the present.  Questions driving the class include: What is health?  What is disease?  Who is to blame for disease? Who is responsible for maintaining health – the individual or the state?  Are drug abuse, alcoholism, kleptomania, anorexia nervosa, obesity, Erectile Dysfunction and ADHD, to name a few, social ills, syndromes or public health issues? How do race, class, ethnicity and gender shape societal responses to medical controversies? Some of the issues we will discuss include germ warfare; religious freedom versus state regulation; slave health care; venereal disease; the Right to Die; fetal alcohol syndrome versus “crack babies”;  over-dependence on prescriptions; abortion and sterilization; Human Experimentation; medical marijuana; National Health Care from Teddy Roosevelt to Obama; stem cell and cloning; the anti-vivisection movement; electroconvulsive therapy and lobotomies; PTSD; Gender and Sexuality (Hermaphrodites, Intersex, transgender, and homosexuality); and childbirth. We will also discuss who has the right to practice medicine – Allopaths? Midwives? Chiropractors? Homeopaths? Osteopaths? – and how this right has changed over time.
  • HST 113 Health Disease and Healing in World History.
    This course examines political, economic, and cultural responses to sickness and disease in global historical context, paying particular attention to the intersection of religion and healing, as well as race, class, and gender, in ancient, medieval, early modern, pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial societies.
  • HST 264 Bitter Contests: Industrialization, Urbanization, and Conflict, 1877-1933.
    This course examines the post-reconstructed nation with special attention to the politics of equilibrium; the economic impact of industrialization and agricultural revolutions; the positive and negative aspects of rapid urbanization; immigration and the class, ethnic, and religious clashes that ensued; Jim Crow and civil rights; the growth of Big Business and labor’s response; Populism; the acquisition of an empire; Progressive reforms at city, state and federal levels; World War I at home and abroad; and the changing notions of femininity and masculinity.  The course ends with the onset of the Depression and Hoover’s response to it.
  • HST 265 The US since the New Deal
    This course examines the institution of the New Deal as FDR’s response to the Depression; wars at home and abroad, including World War II, the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq I & II, and Afghanistan; the rise and fall of unionism; various movements from civil rights, women’s rights, welfare rights, Native American rights, to student rights; countercultures from the 1950s through the 1980s; government regulation of the environment; science and technology; the growth of the Imperial Presidency; Watergate and beyond; and liberalism and conservatism.
  • HST 338 Gender. Race and Class since 1800
    This course examines gender roles and relations from the early nineteenth century to the present.  We will analyze how political, economic and cultural changes impact the definitions of femininity and masculinity, the changing notions of sexuality, and the continuity and diversity of gender roles.  We will pay particular attention to race, class and ethnicity.
  • HST 339 Sickness and Health in American History
    This course is a broad survey of American sickness and health from the pre-colonial period to the present.  Understanding the evolution of medical care provides a basis for comprehending the context of health care in the twenty-first century.  We will examine the indigenous healing methods of Native Americans; the introduction of European methods; the development of medical technology; the use of anesthesia; the professionalization of medicine; the rise of medical education; changes in childbirth procedures; health care during war time; the social impact of diseases; the economics of health care; the ethics of human experimentation; sexually transmitted diseases; the continuing allure of homeopathic healing; and reproductive health issues.
  • HST 390 The Long Decade of the Sixties, 1956-1974
    This seminar explores changes in American society from the Eisenhower years of domesticity andtance from the professor.  Possible topics include electoral politics, civil rights, women's rights, student movements, antiwar protest, the counter culture, poverty and welfare, the environment, conservation, gender roles, religion, the arts, medical advancements, and scientific/technological advancements (space exploration, etc.).  As a research seminar, all students will be required to complete a twenty-five to thirty page research paper based on primary and relevant secondary sources. The first six weeks of the class will entail intensive reading and discussion of secondary materials to familiarize students with the background necessary to write the research paper.

Monographs and Edited Collections

  • Who Chooses?  American Reproductive History since 1830 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008).  Paper back and audio editions 2010.
  • "Capitalism's Hidden Victims: Desperate Women, Abortion, Infanticide and Single Motherhood," in Sexuality: Perspectives, Issues and Role in Society, Nicholas E. Peterson and Whitney Campbell, eds(NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2012), 119-36.

For a complete list of publications, click CV.

Articles and Essays

  • "'Endeavoring to Carry on Their Work': The National Debate over Midwives and its Impact in Rhode Island, 1890-1940," Journal of Nursing History Review 25 (2017): 26-53.
  • "The International Politics of Reproductive History," Journal of Women's History 27.4 (Winter 2015): 184-93.
  • "'Poison that Lurks in the Blood': Medical Views of Female Alcoholics in Late-Nineteenth Century American Society," International Journal of Gender and Women's Studies 2.2 (Summer 2014): 1-41.
  • "'It's Been a Long Road to Acceptance': Midwives in Rhode Island, 1970-2000," Journal of Nursing History Review 22 (2014): 61-94.
  • “‘Killed by Its Mother’:  Infanticide in Providence County, Rhode Island, 1870-1938,” Journal of Social History (Fall 2010):  217-41.
  • “‘I Have Done it and I Have Got to Die’:  Coroners’ Inquests of Abortion Deaths in Rhode Island, 1876-1938,” The History of the Family 14 (Spring 2009):  1-18.
  • "Richard M. Nixon: The ‘Problem of Population’ versus the ‘Sanctity of Human Life’,"  New England Journal of History 56 (Winter 1999-Spring 2000):  101-21.
  • "Birth Control and the Black Community in the 1960s:  Genocide or Power Politics?" Journal of Social History 31 (March 1998):  545-70.
  • "Recent Perspectives on Abortion," NWSA Journal 5 (Fall 1993): 393-404.

For a complete list of publications, click CV.