Remembering the Mothers of Modern Gynecology | WBEZ
Skip to main content


Remembering Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey: The Mothers of Modern Gynecology

Illustration of Dr. J. Marion Sims with Anarcha by Robert Thom. Courtesy of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Pearson Museum. (Pearson Museum, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine)

There are three statues in the United States honoring Dr. James Marion Sims, a 19th-century physician dubbed the father of modern gynecology.

Invisible in his shadow are the enslaved women whom he experimented on.

Today, they are unknown and unnamed except for three: Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey.

This week, we grapple with their story and the troubling history of medical experimentation on African Americans.

The Hidden Brain Podcast is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Kara McGuirk-Alison, Maggie Penman and Max Nesterak. To subscribe to our newsletter, click here.

You can also follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain,@karamcguirk,@maggiepenman and @maxnesterak, and listen for Hidden Brain stories every week on your local public radio station.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.