Introducing Natalie Shibley

This past week (May 2016) was spent at the joint North American Society for Oceanic History, Naval Historical Foundation, North Atlantic Fisheries History Association and Society for the History of Navy Medicine conference held in Portland, Maine. Natalie Shibley, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, won our graduate student travel award for $750. Congratulations to Natalie. Her paper abstract and bio are posted below.

Title: HIV Testing and Treatment in the U.S. Navy, 1985-1993

Abstract: My paper discusses U.S. Navy policy regarding HIV testing and the treatment of sailors infected with HIV. The Navy began mandatory testing for HIV (then called HTLV-III) for new recruits in 1985 and shortly afterwards expanded testing to all sailors in the service. In this paper, I argue that concerns about homosexuality negatively affected care for HIV-infected individuals and contributed to limitations of medical privacy for Navy personnel. Although HIV was also widely stigmatized in civilian society, military prohibitions on homosexuality and discharges for homosexual personnel exacerbated HIV-related stigma for infected sailors. Furthermore, the high risks of admitting to or being accused of homosexuality made frank discussions of safe sex practices and HIV prevention unusually difficult. Unlike in the civilian world, conversations with doctors or other health professionals were not typically considered confidential and could be used as a basis for discharges. The prevalence of homosexuality discharges and investigations shaped the ways in which the Navy responded to HIV in the late 1980s and early 1990s. My sources include Navy and Department of Defense memos, military and civilian newspaper and magazine accounts, medical journals, and court records.

Bio: Natalie Shibley is a Benjamin Franklin Fellow and joint-degree Ph.D. candidate in Africana Studies and History at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds an M.A. in Africana Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in African American Studies and History from Columbia University. Her dissertation concerns U.S. military policy regarding sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases between World War II and the early 1990s. Her dissertation research has been financially supported by such institutions as Penn and the U.S. Army Military History Institute.

SHNM and Portland and Natalie

Annette Finley-Croswhite and Natalie Shibley at our conference in Portland, Maine, 2016.

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Harold D. Langley Book Prize

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine is pleased to announce the winner of our first book award.

Katherine Foxhall has won the Harold D. Langley Book Award for Excellence in the History of Maritime Medicine for her book, Health, medicine, and the sea: Australian Voyages c. 1815-1860 published by Manchester University Press in 2012. The Award announcement was made last week at the joint North American Society for Oceanic History, Naval Historical Foundation, North Atlantic Fisheries History Association and Society for the History of Navy Medicine conference held in Portland, Maine. The Award was created in honor of naval historian and retired Smithsonian curator, Dr. Harold D. Langley, who is also a Board member of the Foundation for the History of Navy Medicine. Board President RADM Frederic Sanford, MC, USN, RET and Dr. Kenneth J. Hagan made up the prize committe that selected Dr. Foxhall’s book.

Dr. Hagan writes, “Katherine Foxhall’s book cause[s] the reader emotionally to enter her poignantly depicted world of suffering souls making the seemingly endless sea journey from England and Ireland to Australia in the latter days of the age of sail. She has been able to paint her vivid verbal portrait by meticulously examining and digesting the hitherto largely ignored reports of surgeons who made the voyage charged with maintaining the health of free emigrants and convicts destined for a new life Down Under. It was a six-month’s travail of extreme hardship, seemingly endless deprivation and always-looming danger of death from disease. These surgeons were compelled to submit a report to the government upon reaching Australia if they wished to be paid for their services on the ship. Theirs are the reports that Katherine Foxhall has mined with the eye of a compassionate humanitarian poet living in the relatively antiseptic western world of the 21st century.”

Foxhall Dr. Katherine Foxhall

Congratulations to Katherine Foxhall for winning this prestigious award!  The award comes with a certificate, one year membership to the SHNM, and $500.


Dr. Langley with Executive Director Dr. Finley-Croswhite (left) and during the award presentation (right).  (Dr. Foxhall lives in England and was unable to attend).

Katherine Foxhall is a Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Leicester, UK. She has written Health, medicine and the sea and research articles about colonial vaccination, medical experimentation, quarantines, and migraine. Her research interests span the social and cultural history of health and illness, colonial medicine and migration, imprisonment and institutions. From 2011 to 2014 she held a Wellcome Trust Fellowship in Medical History and Humanities in the Department of History, King’s College London. She is currently completing a book on the history of migraine, and continues to develop work in the history of migration, punishment and maritime quarantine.

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Maritime Conference in Portland, Maine

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine spent May 11-14 in Portland, Maine at a joint conference of the North American Society for Oceanic History, Naval Historical Foundation, North Atlantic Fisheries History Association, and our SHNM.  We performed well in so many ways.  Our panel “Society for the History of Navy Medicine; Discipline, Disease & Death” took the crowded room of listeners into the worlds of: 1) Punishment on Ships; 2) HIV Testing in the US Navy; and 3) Merchant Seamen burials.  These papers were as follows:

Mechelle Kerns, US Naval Academy, “Punishment in the US Navy–Analysis of Data from the USS Columbus, 1845-1848.”

Natalie Shibley University of Pennsylvania, “HIV Test and Treatment in the US Navy, 1985-1993.”

Annette Finley-Croswhite, Old Dominion University, “Dying in Foreign Ports: Commemorating 19th-Century Seamen Burials in Norfolk, Virginia.”

Natalie Shibley was our SHNM Graduate Student Travel Award Winner for 2016.  Many questions were asked afterwards in lively discussion.  It was a great session. Congratulations especially go out to Natalie for offering an intensely scholarly and extremely impressive paper.

Another highlight of the conference was going to the Maine Maritime Museum. There members of the SHNM were given a special tour by the curator into the bowels of the museum to see 18th and 19th-century medical chests kept aboard ships.  This experience was especially insightful, and frankly, lots of fun!

I am posting pictures here from our tour of the Museum, along with a group shot at dinner.  More pictures will follow as I receive them from colleagues, especially concerning the Book Prize we gave out.  (There will be another post about our book prize). Our conferences are fantastic moments of sharing knowledge and friendship and making discoveries about maritime history and the intersection of naval and maritime history!  Please consider offering a paper next year!

Annette Finley-Croswhite, Executive Director

Maine dinner ship

Dinner with (From left to right) Harry Langley, Annette Finley-Croswhite, Tom Snyder, Gayle K. Brunelle, Lee Mandel, and Natalie Shibley.

Maine Museum2jpgSHNM members in the Maine Maritime Museum examining Medicine Chests from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Maine Mu Bottle

Maine Maritime Museum, Medical Chest

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Maine Maritime Museum, Medical Chest

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Ship’s Medical Chests

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Maine Maritime Museum, Tom’s Hands!

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Your SHNM Executive Director and Secretary-Treasure, Annette Finley-Croswhite and Thomas Snyder at the Conference closing banquet, May 14, 2016, Portland, Maine

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Deadline for Portland Conference, Feb. 26

Please get your conference submissions in now.  The deadine is February 26!  Looking forward to seeing you in Portland!!!

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New Graduate Program in Naval History

Here is a new post from the Naval Historical Foundation:

New Masters Degree in Naval History Offered Through Distance Learning at University of Portsmouth


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Conference Hotel Information

We are looking for a big turnout for our NASOH/NAFHA/SHNM conference in Portland, Maine, May 11-15, 2016.  Please come and give a paper:

Hotel information is below:

Holiday Inn By the Bay Conference Center,
They are holding 70 rooms for May 11–14 until April 11, 2016
Room Rates, for a standard room with 2 double beds:
$129 Single or double occupancy
$139 Triple
$149 Quad
Upgrades, if available:
+ $10 Standard King
+ $15 Executive King
+ $10 Executive Double
Conference rates will be offered for two days before and after the conference if rooms are available.
Note that there is an additional 9% room tax.
For reservations, call 800-345-5050, or from within Maine: 207-775-2311 ext. 0. Tell the reservationist that you are attending the NASOH conference.
If you have any problems please contact Warren Riess:  or 207-563-8177.
Annette Finley-Croswhite, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Society for the History of Navy Medicine
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New conference submission deadline

We have extended the conference paper/panel submission deadline to February 26.  Please join us in Portland!

Call for Papers

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine will co-sponsor an annual conference with the North American Society for Oceanic History and the North Atlantic Fisheries History Association in:

Portland, Maine, May 11-15, 2016.

The Program Committee welcomes submissions: Proposals should include: Panel/Paper Title, 250 word abstract of each paper to be presented, 200 word bio of presenter, and contact information (submit in 12-point Times Roman font and NOT as a PDF).  

Send Proposal to the Program Committee via Vic Mastone:

Please send an additional copy to your Society Executive Director, Dr. Annette Finley-Croswhite, 

Please put: SHNM paper proposal in the Reference line of the email

We welcome complete panels and individual papers.

Proposal Submission Deadline: February 26, 2016.  (New deadline)

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine offers one generous travel award for a graduate student presenting at the conference.

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