Women and Cancer: A History of Mutual Support

Historian’s Lecture to Explore Record of Organized Awareness Campaigns

Feb. 04, 2008

Modern-day pink ribbons are far from the first effort to raise awareness about cancer risks that women face.

Since the early decades of the 20th century, women have taught one another how to look for the warning signs.  As one 1930s project explained, cancer education could be conducted “By Women, For Women, and With Women."

Kirsten E. Gardner has traced the history of women’s cancer awareness campaigns and will share her findings in  “Women and Early Cancer Detection:  A Historical View,” a free lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 5. The Gender Studies Program and the Women’s Center are co-sponsoring the talk, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the Conference Center (CN 1.206).

Gardner is associate professor of history and women’s studies at the UT San Antonio.  She is the author of Early Detection:  Cancer, Women, and Awareness Campaigns in the 20th Century U.S.

Dispelling the common notion that American women became activists in the fight against female cancer only after the 1970s, Gardner traces women's cancer education campaigns back to the early 20th century.

Her talk will trace the role of women’s clubs, philanthropists, and concerned females in promulgating the message that early detection offers the best means to cure cancer.

Gardner will highlight some of the milestones in breast cancer awareness in the United States, including the creation of the Women’s Field Army, the evolution of breast self-examination films, and the role of public dialogue in cancer awareness efforts. 


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Kirsten Gardner’s book traces the history of women's cancer awareness campaigns.

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April 25, 2018