Sue Coe, Renee–“When they told me I was HIV positive, I lay on my bed and cried and cried”, source: Cushing/Whitney Medical Library
Care Underground: Redefining Dignity for the Dead from 1960-2015

My dissertation is about alternative death care activism in the U.S. since the 1960s. I study people who have worked to change mainstream procedures of care for the dying and the dead, from building AIDS hospices to arranging do-it-yourself funerals to creating eco-friendly technologies for bodily disposal.

Flo Kennedy at the N.O.W. march in 1972. Photo by Bettye Lane, source: Schlesinger Library
“Don’t Agonize, Organize!” Florynce “Flo” Kennedy, 1916-2000

A guest appearance on the Dead Ladies Show, recorded live in New York City, about radical feminist lawyer Flo Kennedy

Pharmakon conference poster, hosted by NYU
Flight Nurses, Free Clinics, and Rock Medicine: LSD and Nursing, 1950-1975

This paper explores the relationship between nursing and LSD. By developing specialized care protocols in LSD research and by staffing nontraditional, free clinics and emergency care tents, nurses have provided essential caregiving labor that has been overlooked in histories of nursing and assessments of the social impact of LSD.


Newspaper clippings and business cards of contacts who died from AIDS, source: the Larry Kramer Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript LIbrary
Pop-up Exhibit Larry Kramer: Crisis and Care

Drawn from the Larry Kramer Papers at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and curated for, “Literary Biography: Archives and Life Stories,” a Master Class with Dr. Karin Roffman.

Presentation Reclaiming the Dead: The Politics of Home Funerals

A growing alternative death care movement seeks to normalize conversations about death (Death Café), demystify dying and care of the dead (Ask A Mortician series), and offer guidance throughout the dying process (death doulas). This paper situates these movements historically within a longer lineage of Black social and political activism.

Installation of exhibit, Celebrating 10 Years of the Cushing Center. Photo by Terry Dagradi
Celebrating 10 Years of the Cushing Center

Dr. Cushing removed and preserved patients’ tumors and, after they died, their brains. These materials became the Cushing Brain Tumor Registry. While the collection was originally assembled to educate the medical elite, the Cushing Center opens the Brain Tumor Registry to the public from which it came. Co-curated with Terry Dagradi.

Wooden nipple shields, source: Wellcome Collection
In Search of a “Good Nipple”: The Risk and Use of Lead Nipple Shields

These tiny, protective nursing devices–in use since the 16th century–sparked an intense controversy that called into question the integrity of doctors’ and mothers’ knowledge about safe infant feeding