History of Medicine #23: Spinsters and Lesbians as Spiritual Mothers of the British Race


In this seminar Florence Binard explores the dichotomy of ‘eugenic feminists’ in contrast to ‘feminist eugenics’ by focusing primarily on authors of the former group that understood themselves as both feminists as well as eugenicists. Binard critically investigates the works of Edith Ellis, Mary Sharlieb, Frances Swiney, Elizabeth Sloan Chester, and Caleb Saleeby towards illuminating the extent to which debates on reproduction and feminism related to the social construction of childless women and changing perceptions of their wider societal functions. This seminar took place at Oxford Brookes University on 27 November 2012.

Links to resources

Teaching subject area

History, History of Medicine



Date produced


Faculty or department

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences\Department of History, Philosophy and Culture

Graduate attributes

Research literacy


copyright Oxford Brookes University, except where indicated in the item description


  • Owner: Thomas Shepherd
  • Collection: OER
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