For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!
You are using a browser that is no longer supported by Microsoft. Please upgrade your browser. The site may not present itself correctly if you continue browsing.

Dr. M.S. (Manon) Parry

Public History
Faculty of Humanities
Photographer: ComeniusNetwork / Milette Raats

Visiting address
  • Kloveniersburgwal 48
  • Room number: E 1.04
Postal address
  • Postbus 1610
    1000 BP Amsterdam
  • Profile

    Manon S. Parry, PhD, is an historian of medicine and exhibition curator, specializing in the uses of the humanities for health and wellbeing. She is Professor of Medical History at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam (VU), and Associate Professor in American Studies and Public History at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). She is a member of the World Health Organization’s new Technical Advisory Group on Behavioural and Cultural Insights, and co-author, with Nancy Tomes, of the first historical report published by the Behavioural and Cultural Insights Unit at WHO/Europe (“Infodemics in Historical Perspective,” 2022). She leads the MA History: Medical and Health Humanities at the VU and directs the PULSE Network for Health Humanities:

    Formerly, she was Curator in the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine, USA. Professor Parry has curated gallery and online exhibitions on a wide range of topics, including global health and human rights, disability in the American Civil War, and medicinal and recreational drug use, with budgets ranging from $14,500 to $3 million. Traveling versions of her exhibitions have visited more than 300 venues in Argentina, Canada, Germany, Guam, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. She has served in formal and informal advisory roles for exhibition projects on health and medicine at the Mütter Museum, Philadelphia; the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; and MUCEM, the Museum of European Civilisations, Marseille.

    She is currently completing a project titled "Human Curiosities: Expanding the Social Relevance of Medical Museums." While the collections of medical museums, including human remains, are sometimes labeled as "curiosities," her title refers instead to the idea that it is entirely human to be curious about bodies and that curators can harness that interest in socially-useful ways. She has anaysed museums across Europe, focusing specifically on the representation of sexuality and reproduction, mental health issues, infectious diseases, and race, disability, and the life cycle. Output will include a book and an online tool experimenting with new strategies for interpreting medical heritage. The research is funded by a €315,000 Veni grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and Heritage Collections/The University of Amsterdam.

    She is co-editor, with Ellen S. More and Elizabeth Fee, of Women Physicians and the Culture of Medicine (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) , winner of the Archivists and Librarians in the Health Sciences Publication Award for Best Print Publication in 2012. She is the author of Broadcasting Birth Control: Mass Media and Family Planning (Rutgers University Press, 2013), a history of health communication, and is currently deevloping a new research project titled "Persuasion and Public Health: Learning from the History of Health Communication."

    She has served as a Managing Editor of the UK journal Museum & Society and as International Consulting Editor for the US journal The Public Historian. In October 2014 she co-organized the inaugural annual conference of the International Federation for Public History - Public History in a Digital World: The Revolution Reconsidered.

    Other projects include research on the use of sound in museums, and the public history of controversial topics including mental health history and abortion and contraception. Recently-funded research projects include "Bio-Art, Ethics, and Engagement," Creative Industries Research Center Amsterdam (CIRCA), €30,000.00.

    On the Covid 19 Pandemic:

    Algemeen Daglad: Historicus: ‘We hadden beter kunnen weten met het coronavirus’

    We zouden van de geschiedenis moeten leren hoe we kunnen vechten tegen pandemieën, zegt medisch historicus Manon Parry. ,,Maar dat doen we te weinig. We zijn veel te zelfgenoegzaam.”

    Pulse Network: "Learning from the (Recent) Past: The Medical and Health Humanities Have a Lot to Teach Us About How to Respond to Covid 19."

    UvA Activities

    Coordinator, “ Medicine and Society Research Group,” UvA
    Member, Amsterdam Center for Cultural Heritage and Identity.

  • Books & Exhibitions

    Broadcasting Birth Control: Mass Media and Family Planning (Rutgers University Press, 2013)

    Traditionally, the history of the birth control movement has been told through the accounts of the leaders, organizations, and legislation that shaped the campaign. Recently, historians have begun examining the cultural work of printed media, including newspapers, magazines, and even novels in fostering support for the cause. Broadcasting Birth Control builds on this new scholarship to explore the films and radio and television broadcasts developed by twentieth-century birth control advocates to promote family planning at home in the United States, and in the expanding international arena of population control.

    Mass media was critical to the birth control movement’s attempts to build support and later to publicize the idea of fertility control and the availability of contraceptive services in the United States and around the world. Though these public efforts in advertising and education were undertaken initially by leading advocates, including Margaret Sanger, increasingly a growing class of public communications experts took on the role, mimicking the efforts of commercial advertisers to promote health and contraception in short plays, cartoons, films, and soap operas. In this way, they made a private subject—fertility control—appropriate for public discussion.

    Parry examines these trends to shed light on the contested nature of the motivations of birth control advocates. Acknowledging that supporters of contraception were not always motivated by the best interests of individual women, Parry concludes that family planning advocates were nonetheless convinced of women’s desire for contraception and highly aware of the ethical issues involved in the use of the media to inform and persuade.



    "Manon Parry’s engrossing book, Broadcasting Birth Control, takes readers through the arguments early sexual and reproductive health advocates had when deciding what would be the best messaging to gain popular support for the use of contraception in America."
    —International Planned Parenthood Federation

    "Parry's clear, compelling, meticulously researched, and accessible book is the first to specifically examine the extensive use of mass media to garner support for the legalization of birth control during the twentieth century." —Heather Munro Prescott, author of The Morning After: A History of Emergency Contraception in the United

    "By showing how the popular media helped win over a skeptical public, Parry deepens our understanding of the history of birth control . . . a subtle and persuasive reinterpretation." —Sonya Michel, University of Maryland

    " Broadcasting Birth Control is jam-packed with surprising historical tidbits on ways the media has been used by the family planning movement since its inception. Manon Parry has done a major service to the family planning field by capturing the history of its early engagement with the media and the evolution of that engagement with all the pitfalls and challenges along the way."
    —Conscience: The News Journal of Catholic Opinion

    "Parry reveals to us many important parts of the [birth control] story we have for too long overlooked."
    —Social History of Medicine

    "[A] fine survey of the mediation of birth control." —Journal of American History

    Women Physicians and the Cultures of Medicine (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008)

    This volume examines the wide-ranging careers and diverse lives of American women physicians, shedding light on their struggles for equality, professional accomplishment, and personal happiness over the past 150 years. Leading scholars in the history of medicine chronicle the trials and triumphs of such extraordinary women as Marie Zakrzewska, one of the first female medical graduates in the United States and founder of the New England Hospital for Women and Children; Mary S. Calderone, the courageous and controversial medical director of Planned Parenthood in the mid-twentieth century; and Esther Pohl Lovejoy, who risked her life to bring medical aid and supplies to countries experiencing war, famine, and other catastrophes. Illuminating the ethnic, political, and personal diversity of women physicians, the book reveals them as dedicated professionals who grapple with obstacles and embrace challenges, even as they negotiate their own health, sexuality, and body images, the needs of their patients, and the rise of the women's health movement.



    A great introduction to the history of women in medicine. It offers fresh disciplinary perspectives on the diverse experience of women physicians in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. Scholars in women's history, the history of professions, gender studies, and the history of medicine will profit from reading these engaging essays."

    — Sarah W. Tracy, author of Alcoholism in America: From Reconstruction to Prohibition

    "This lively collection of essays will no doubt be enlightening to the current generation of medical students, historians, and scholars."

    — Barbara F. Atkinson - Journal of Clinical Investigation

    "Readers will find much to admire in this book. The individual essays, while diverse, are uniformly well written, well-researched, and impressively documented... Highly recommended."

    — Choice

    "The book would certainly be helpful for medical historians, of course, but also for any person—woman or man—interested in the past, present, and future role of women in medicine. Readers are rewarded with impressive scholarship and exhaustive, essay-specific bibliographies."

    — JAMA

    "Stellar edited collection... Read this book and assign it for class: it succeeds in leaving us informed,inspired, and amazed... It is provocative, deconstructs binaries, shows the personal tolls and struggles faced by these physicians and their use of science, nutrition, professional authority, and maternity (among others) as means to challenge male medical authority and culturally constructed gendered norms."

    — Susan E. Cayleff - Bulletin of the History of Medicine

    "This important volume delineates the state of the field in many aspects of the history of women physicians in the United States and points the way to the next steps in research."

    — Kimberly Jensen - Social History of Medicine

    "This collection of essays on the history of American women physicians from the nineteenth century to the present provides the latest, state-of-the-art scholarship on the subject... Invaluable."

    — Laura Ettinger - American Historical Review

    "A valuable addition to the history of women's struggle for fulfilling careers in medicine."

    — H. Hughes Evans - Journal of the History of Medicine

    Major Gallery Exhibitions

    Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health, National Library of Medicine, 2008-2010

    Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians (co-curated with Ellen S. More), National Library of Medicine, 2004-2006


    Traveling Exhibitions

    Life and Limb: The Toll of the Civil War, 2011

    A Voyage to Health (co-curated with Davianna Pōmaika‘i McGregor, Hardy Spoeh, Maile Taualii), 2010

    The Literature of Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and 'The Yellow Wall-paper,' 2009

  • Awards

    2012: Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences Publication Award for Best Print Publication, 2012, for Women Physicians and the Cultures of Medicine, co-edited with Ellen S. More and Elizabeth Fee (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009).

    2012: National Library of Medicine Special Act Award: In Recognition and Appreciation of Exceptional Service by a Contractor, for exhibition work.

    2011: Costo Chair Medal, Awarded by the Chair of American Indian Affairs, University of California-Riverside, for contributions to the advancement of Native American issues, in recognition of exhibition work on health topics.

    2011: National Institutes of Health Plain Language Award, Gold, for online exhibition “The Literature of Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and ‘The Yellow Wall-paper.’”

    2009: National Council on Public History Excellence in Consulting Award.

    2009: National Library of Medicine Special Act Award: “For outstanding achievement enabling the successful conduct of historically unique interviews with Native Hawaiians and research for the exhibition ‘Native Concepts of Health and Illness.’”

    2005: National Institutes of Health Plain Language Award in the category of Outstanding for the “Changing the Face of Medicine” Engagement Calendar, Brochure, Exhibit, and Web site.

    2004: National Library of Medicine Special Act Award: “For exceptional contributions to the concept, development and production of ‘Changing the Face of Medicine’ which led to the creation of a critically acclaimed exhibition.”

  • Teaching and Supervision

    Courses Taught:

    Media Studies and Public History, MA Level. American Studies, BA and MA level. Courses previously taught include Introduction to Public History; Special Topics in Public History - Digital Public History, and Museums for Health and Wellbeing; Collection and Collection Management; Curating the Moving Image; History in Public Debate; Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll?: The Historiography of the 1960s; History Lab: Pictures and Public Health: Analyzing AIDS Education Media; Thesis Workshop; and Family Planning Media in National and International Context.

    Supervision: Supervising BA, MA, and PhD Theses on topics related to public history, women's history, history of medicine, history of communication, audiovisual archives, and medical museums.

    Ongoing: PhD: Carl Deußen (History/Museum Studies, University of Amsterdam/Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne), “Collecting the Intimate: Gender, Desire and Material Culture in 19th Century Ethnographic Collecting.”


    PhD: Christie Ray (Media Studies, University of Amsterdam), “Assumptions and Experiences: How Museums Communicate Interactivity and How Visitors Engage with Instruction in the Museum Context.” March 2020.

    Embedded Research/Predoctoral:

    -“Bio-Art, Ethics, and Engagement,” Louis Buckley, 2014

    MA Theses:  

    -“A Different Approach: The Role of Museums in Tackling Climate Change,” Georgina McDowall, MA Museum Studies, 2019

    -“Beyond Popular Historical Narratives of Second-Wave of Feminism,” Elizabeth Hendriks, MA American Studies, 2019

    -“The Intersection of Culture and Public Memory: Tracking the Changes in the Stonewall Narrative, 1969-2019,” Sarah Taylor, MA American Studies, 2019

    -“History’s Outsiders: Evaluating the Current State of the Art of Dutch LGBTQ Public History,” Kevin Schram, MA Public History, 2019

    -“A Gendered Collection - Masculinity and Material Culture in the 19th Century Ethnographic Collection of Wilhelm Joest,” Carl Deußen, MA Museum Studies, 2019

    -“The Representation of Child Care Institutions in The New York Times in the Early Progressive Era,” Sophia Beukenhorst, MA American Studies, 2018

    -“No Secret Anymore: Sexuality, Magazine Advertising, and American National Character, 1953-1964,” Stephanie Evers, MA American Studies, 2017

    -“I’m sure there’s a heterosexual explanation for this”: An analysis of the queering and unqueering of representations, memorializations and commemorations of LGBTQ history in public history spaces,” Nina Schuts, MA American Studies, 2017

    -“Fighting Stereotypes: The Cultural Representation of the Chicana in American Film,” Elise Hoogendoorn, MA American Studies, 2017

    -“Women in Politics: The Gender Gap in Political Representation and Ambition in the United States and the Netherlands,” Iris Bos, MA American Studies, 2017

    -“Abortion on Screen: Shonda Rhimes and the Television Portrayal of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the United States,” Lizzy van Hees, MA American Studies, 2017

    -“It’s Time! Strategies for Integrating Women’s History in Public History,” Ellen Schuurman, MA Public History, 2017

    -“Towards a Living Activist Archive Online: A case study of CivilMedia@TW in Taiwan,” Chia-Wei Tung, MA Preservation & Presentation of the Moving Image, 2016

    -“Engaging Amateur Film: An Investigation into User Activity at Archival Institutions,” Nicholas Carbone, MA Preservation & Presentation of the Moving Image, 2016

    -“The Spark, the Fire, the Ashes: The Park 51 Controversy – Post-9/11 American Identity & Islamophobia,” Nathalie Bank, MA American Studies, 2016

    -"Locked Up in Darkness: the U.S. federal Supermaximum Prison Debate,” Anna Muns, MA American Studies, 2016

    -“When AIDS is history,” Hugo Schalkwijk, MA Public History, 2015

    -“Branding Family History,” Carlijn van Spaendonck, MA Public History, 2015

    -“Women’s History in Museums,” Jasmijn van Houten, MA Public History, 2014

    -“Becoming ‘Disney Worlds of Heritage Entertainment’? Transformation in Public Programming at the Amsterdam City Archives,” Roosmarijn Thuijsman, MA Public History, 2014

    -“From Epidemic to War: Response of the U.S. Government on the Emergence of the Obesity Epidemic, 1980-2014,” Hannah Tiel, MA American Studies, 2014

    -“Riding the Wave of Acceptance: An Exploration of Hip-Hop’s Evolving Relationship to Queer Sexualities,” Jurjanne Vos, MA American Studies, 2014

    -“Access and Reuse of the Moving Images of the Colombian Armed Conflict 1983-2013: Broadcasting Traces, Online Platforms and the Writing of History,” Luisa Ordóñez Ortegón, MAPreservation & Presentation of the Moving Image, 2014

    -“No Place Like Home: The Rhetoric of Fetal Rights in the American Homebirth Debate,” Suzan Steeman, MA American Studies, 2013

    -“Under Fire: The Republican Party’s War on Women in the 2012 Election,”Martine Gouw, MA American Studies, 2013

    -“Archives and National Identity: Audiovisual Heritage in the UK and Ireland,” Eoin  O’Donohoe, MA Preservation & Presentation of the Moving Image, 2013

    -“Film Festivals each Into Cyberspace: A History of Online Film Festivals,”Norbert Bakker, MA Preservation & Presentation of the Moving Image, 2013

    BA Theses

    -“Broadcasting HIV/AIDS: The Representation on HIV/AIDS on Dutch Television, 1981-2018,” Jan Waaksma, BA History, 2018

    -“HIV under Reagan and Obama: A New Incentive for Criminalisation,” Ticho Goossens, “BA History, 2018

    - “Modern Medicine, Victorian Suffragettes, and the Female Body,” Elliyah Dyson, BA History, 2018

    -“The History of Dutch Creative Therapy in Comparative Perspective,” Philip van Aalst, BA History, 2018

    -“Preserving a history that many would rather hide”: The Whitney Plantation and its relation to the representation of the history of slavery in American public landscape in the twentieth century, Judith Pel, BA History (American Studies Track), 2016

    -“Between Tolerance and Acceptance: Homosexuality on Television in the Netherlands, 1980-2013,” Ellen Schuurman, BA History, 2014

  • Publications



    • Parry, M. S. (2022). Pandemics and National Pride: collecting and curating the history of HIV/AIDS. In J. Weston, & H. J. Elizabeth (Eds.), Histories of HIV in Western Europe: New and Regional Perspectives (pp. 215-235). (Social histories of medicine). Manchester University Press. [details]


    • Parry, M. (2021). The valuable role of risky histories: exhibiting disability, race and reproduction in medical museums. Science Museum Group Journal, 14. [details]
    • Parry, M. S. (2021). Getting to Grips with Difficult Histories in Medical Museums. In T. Kador, & H. Chatterjee (Eds.), Object-Based Learning for Health and Well-Being: Exploring Material Connections (pp. 173-182). Routledge. [details]
    • Parry, M. S. (2021). Museums and the Material Culture of Abortion. In R. A. Johnston Hurst (Ed.), Representing Abortion (pp. 61-74). (Interdisciplinary research in gender). Routledge. [details]
    • Parry, M. S., Tijsseling, C., & van Trigt, P. (2021). Slow, Uncomfortable and Badly Paid: DisPLACE and the Benefits of Doing Disability History. In A. Chynoweth, B. Lynch, K. Petersen, & S. Smed (Eds.), Museums and Social Change: Challenging the Unhelpful Museum (pp. 149-159). (Museum Meanings). Routledge. [details]


    • Parry, M. S. (2020). Public health heritage and policy: HIV and AIDS in museums and archives: Herança e política de saúde pública: HIV e aids em museus e arquivos. História, ciências, saúde-Manguinhos, 27(Sup.), 253-262. [details]
    • Parry, M. S., & Schalkwijk, H. (2020). Lost Objects and Missing Histories: HIV/AIDS in the Netherlands. In J. G. Adair, & A. K. Levin (Eds.), Museums, Sexuality, and Gender Activism (pp. 113-125). (Museum meanings). Routledge. [details]



    • Parry, M. S. (2017). Sex Education and Social Media: Contraception in the Digital Age. In W. Maierhofer, & B. Capo (Eds.), Reproductive Rights Issues in Popular Media: International Perspectives (pp. 65-81). McFarland. [details]



    • Birdsall, C., Parry, M., & Tkaczyk, V. (2015). Listening to the Mind: Tracing the Auditory History of Mental Illness in Archives and Exhibitions. The Public Historian, 37(4), 47-72. [details]
    • Parry, M. (2015). Feminist Opposition to Abortion: Reframing Histories to Limit Reproductive Rights. In M. Aerts, E. Buchheim, S. Bultman, A. Churampi Ramínez, M. Groot, C. Rasterhoff, P. Schuurmans, E. Walhout, & I. de Zwarte (Eds.), Gender and activism: women’s voices in political debate (pp. 107-118). (Jaarboek voor Vrouwengeschiedenis; No. 35). Verloren. [details]



    • Parry, M. (2011). Benjamin Spock: pediatrician and anti-war activist. American Journal of Public Health, 101(5), 802-803.
    • Parry, M. S. (2011). Pictures with a Purpose: The Birth Control Debate on the Big Screen. Journal of Women’s History, 23(4), 108-130.


    • Parry, M. (2010). From a patient's perspective: Clifford whittingham beers' work to reform mental health services. American Journal of Public Health, 100(12), 2356-2357.


    • More, E. S., Fee, E., & Parry, M. S. (2009). Women Physicians and the Cultures of Medicine. Johns Hopkins University Press.



    • Fee, E., & Parry, M. (2006). David Bodian. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 150(1), 167-172.


    • Parry, M. S. (2023). Verpleging nu en toen: het gebruik van geschiedenis in de gezondheidszorg. Verpleegkunde, 38(4), 13-18.


    • Parry, M. S., Schalkwijk, H., Hoffmann, M., Roodbol, P., Pennock, H., Grob, B., & Lalleman, P. (2021). Verpleegkundige interventies in een tastbaar verleden. Verpleegkunde, 1, 7-9.


    • Parry, M. S., & van Houten, J. (2018). Exceptional or Excluded: Women’s History in the Netherlands. In J. C. Ashton (Ed.), Feminism and Museums: Intervention, Disruption, Change (Vol. 2, pp. 532-559). MuseumsEtc. [details]







    • Parry, M. (2016). Exhibiting Human Rights: New Narratives of Global Health. In Inspiring Action: Museums and Social Change : A Collection of Essays (Revised colour ed., pp. 136-155). MuseumsEtc. [details]
    • Parry, M. (2016). [Review of: J. Nelson (2015) More than medicine: a history of the feminist women's health movement]. American Historical review, 121(2), 606-607. [details]



    • Parry, M. (2013). The Sound of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Museum. Developed by Soundscapes of the Urban Past, University of Maastricht, based on research by Annelies Jacobs, supervised by Professor Karin Bijsterveld. Sound recording by Arnoud Traa, audio storylines designed by Jessica Swinkels. Amsterdam Museum, March 28-December 28, 2013. The Public Historian, 35(3), 127-130. [details]


    • Roei, N. (organiser), Pols, J. (organiser), Lane, M. (organiser), Stergioula, S. (organiser), Parry, M. (participant), Sezneva, O. (participant), Krause, K. (participant), Vroon, V. (participant), Yalciner, G. (participant), Camuti, F. (participant) & Phillips, S. (participant) (12-10-2023). ArtiC interfaculty meeting, Amsterdam. ArtiC interfaculty meeting (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Roei, N. (organiser), Parry, M. (organiser) & Zwartsenburg, M. (organiser) (30-3-2023). PULSE Network Meeting, Amsterdam. Pulse Network meeting, organized by Project Stimulus (organising a conference, workshop, ...).


    • Ray, C. A. (2020). Assumptions and experiences: How museums communicate interactivity and how visitors engage with instruction in the museum context. [Thesis, externally prepared, Universiteit van Amsterdam]. [details]
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    • WHO Europe
      Member Technical Advisory Group on Behavioural and Cultural Insights for Health