Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2013


THROUGHOUT AMERICAN HISTORY, both in slavery and as free women, African American women have confronted the problem of whether to disclose or hide their bodies’ illnesses and pains. For some, redemptive suffering and pain served as a powerful metaphor that openly inspired their reform activism.2 For others, the risk of disclosure seemed too great, especially if their physical problems had a sexual or reproductive dimension that could be construed in a racist light by the dominant white American society. In this paper, Alison Parker confronts the question of how, when, and why Mary (Mollie) Church Terrell privatized pain and illness.

Publisher Statement

Alison M. Parker, “‘The Picture of Health’: The Public Life and Private Ailments of Mary Church Terrell,’” Journal of Historical Biography 13 (Spring 2013): 164-207, © Journal of Historical Biography 2013. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 License