The “Girl Suicide Epidemic” of the 1910s: Pain and Prejudice in US Newspapers

A new piece in the Journal of Women’s History will interest AHP readers: “The “Girl Suicide Epidemic” of the 1910s: Pain and Prejudice in US Newspapers” by Diana W. Anselmo. Abstract:

Reading the medicalization of US immigration policy in tandem with the feminization and juvenation of suicide in early twentieth-century newspapers, I argue that US exceptionalism sits on a perdurable and widespread embrace of eugenics ideals, traceable to the years around World War I. Cast by journalists and scientists as a public health hazard, the so-called “girl suicide epidemic” symptomizes a patriarchal society’s efforts to pathologize gender, class, ethnic, and psychogenic differences through the weaponization of renewed public concerns about women’s social roles, national belonging, and infectious disease control. By contextualizing archival research on early twentieth-century newspapers with immigration legislation, eugenic theory, and psychology literature, I aim to enter feminist efforts to challenge an idea of sovereign US citizenship defined by Anglo-Saxon male whiteness and homogenous wellness.

Thanks to h-madness for bringing this to our attention.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.