Michelle Hartney

Dr. J. Marion Sims, the “father of modern gynecology,” bought and rented slaves and performed experiments on their vaginas, in an attempt to find a cure for the vesico-vaginal fistula. Sims experimented on at least ten female slaves, choosing not to provide anesthesia, even though it had recently become available. In Sims’ autobiography, he revealed the names of three of the women he experimented on: Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey. An accompanying performance element to this work includes my visiting medical libraries and checking out old obstetrics textbooks. I return every book that fails to mention Anarcha, Lucy or Betsey, with a typed footnote inserted in the pages of the book, which explains the truth about Sim’s work.

© Michelle Hartney