We'd like to congratulate 2014 graduating senior Rachel Selvig. The history department has awarded her its annual Fosso Prize for the best research paper completed in history at Luther College.
Her paper is entitled "Birth Control among the British Working Class, 1900-1930: Destigmatization and Expansion" and the abstract is as follows:
"For years, historians have attempted to understand the mystery of the “fertility revolution” in England in the beginning of the twentieth century, where fertility rates dropped drastically and use of contraceptive practices markedly increased, particularly among the working class. Much attention has been giving to the wide array of birth control publications available at greater levels during this time, but analysis of statistical data and personal accounts show that the content and popularity of such sources alone does not account for the trends seen in the lived experience of working men and women. This paper provides an overview of the of the process of destigmatization occurring in British society through law, medicine, and government, followed by an analysis of the information available to the working class through books, newspapers, and clinics. These two realms then allow for a contextualization of reports of actual birth control practice, leading to the conclusion that the increased use of birth control among married, working-class men and women between 1900 and 1930 was more a reflection of the destigmatization of birth control in British society than the direct result of birth control publications and advocacy."