Emily Abel

Emily K. Abel is a historian of medicine and public health. Her book, Hearts of Wisdom: American Women Caring for Kin, 1850-1940 (Harvard University Press, 2000), was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 2000. Her two books on the history of tuberculosis in Los Angeles are Suffering in the Land of Sunshine: A Los Angeles Illness Narrative (Rutgers University Press, 2006) and Tuberculosis and the Politics of Exclusion: A History of Public Health and Migration to Los Angeles (Rutgers University Press, 2007), which won the Viseltear Prize of the Medical Section of the American Public Health Association for an outstanding book in the history of public health. Her most recent book is After the Cure: Untold Stories of Breast Cancer Survivors (NYU Press, 1908), co-written with Saskia Subramanian.


  • PhD, Columbia University, New York, NY
  • PhD, University of London, London, UK
  • MPH, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
  • BA, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

Areas of Interest

  • Health Services & Women's Studies
  • Historian of Medicine and Public Health
  • Tuberculosis

Selected Publications

  • Co-Editor, Circles of Care (State University of New York Press, 1990).
  • Who Cares for the Elderly? Public Policy and the Experiences of Adult Daughters (Temple University Press, 1991).
  • "Parental Dependence and Filial Responsibility in the Nineteenth Century: Hial Hawley and Emily Hawley Gillespie, 1884-1885," The Gerontologist, Vol. 32, No.4 (1992):519-526.
  • "Benevolence and Social Control: Advice from the Children's Bureau in the Early Twentieth Century," Social Service Review, Vol. 68, No. 1, (March 1994): 1-19
  • "Family Caregiving in the Nineteenth Century: Emily Hawley Gillespie and Sarah Gillespie, 1858-1888," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 68, No. 4 (Winter 1994): 573-599.
  • "'Man, Woman, and Chore Boy': Transformations in the Antagonistic Demands of Work and Care on Women in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries," The Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 73, No. 2 (1995): 187-212.
  • "A ‘Terrible and Exhausting' Struggle: Family Caregiving during the Transformation of Medicine," Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Vol. 50 (1995): 474-502.
  • "Interactions between Public Health Nurses and Clients on American Indian Reservations during the 1930s," Social History of Medicine, Vol. 9, No.1 (1996), 89-108 (with Nancy Reifel).