"Meet the Author" Program :: Smithsonian Lemelson Center
Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Smithsonian Beanie Illustration
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Paul Rosenthal (202) 633-3656

How Did Postwar Medical Advances Lead A Shift in American Culture?

What happened at the end of World War II that prompted a massive transformation in how Americans related to their doctors and the world of medicine?  In a Meet the Author program sponsored by the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, museum visitors can learn how the development and widespread use of technologies such as plastic surgery transformed visions of medicine beyond something to simply keep you physically healthy.  The program is free and open to the public, and will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 3 at noon on the first floor of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. 

Historian David Serlin, author of the new book Replaceable You: Engineering the Body in Postwar America, and Smithsonian medical history curator Katherine Ott will discuss how nationalistic pride in postwar society encouraged many Americans to put tremendous faith in the power of medicine to rehabilitate and otherwise transform the lives and bodies of the disabled and those considered abnormal.  Be they amputees from WWII, disfigured young women who survived the bombing of Hiroshima, or a former G.I. who reassigned his gender, many followed new avenues in medical technology.  The program is presented in conjunction with the Lemelson Center's Inventing Ourselves exhibit, investigating the history and design of artificial limbs, implantable devices, and sports performance enhancers.




The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center is dedicated to exploring invention in history and encouraging inventive creativity in young people. The Center is supported by The Lemelson Foundation, a private philanthropy established by one of the country's most prolific inventors, Jerome Lemelson, and his family. The Lemelson Center is located in the National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W. The nearest Metro stations are Federal Triangle and Smithsonian on the Orange/Blue lines. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except on Dec. 25. Admission is free.
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