Over 200 years ago the German philosopher Friedrich Hegel remarked, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” Humans have the tendency to ignore lessons from the past, a tendency which has negative consequences. This observation describes one of the themes of a presentation on women’s reproductive rights to be given by Mary Melcher Wednesday afternoon at the Arizona Senior Academy.
Melcher, a historian concentrating in the 20th Century, women’s history, and the American West, will examine the struggles in the 1930s of Arizona women to gain access to birth control. In her presentation, entitled “How the Past Informs the Present: Arizona Women and Reproduction,” Melcher will compare the arguments made 80 years ago (as well as in the contentious debates throughout the country in the 1970s) with the arguments one hears today.
She contends that many of the early arguments opposing reproductive rights for women are being raised again. Melcher will present her observations in the Great Room of the Arizona Senior Academy Building as part of that organization’s ongoing program of lectures and concerts. She will also include material selected from her book, “Pregnancy, Motherhood, and Choice in Twentieth-Century Arizona,” recently published by the University of Arizona Press.
Melcher resides in the Vail area. She earned her doctorate in American History at Arizona State University in 1994. For the past 20 years she has worked as a curator and consultant on numerous public history projects and has published numerous articles. She has conducted more than 150 oral histories, which have been featured in her publications, exhibits, radio programs and videos.
She is the lead historian for the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail, a public history project combining women’s history with the interpretation of historic sites. She has been honored with the Susanne Shafer Award for outstanding contributions in women’s studies in Arizona, and with the Dan Shilling Distinguished Public Scholar Award.
Academy Village is an active-adult community located off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East.
Submitted by Fred Neidhardt, Academy Village Volunteer