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The Empty Cradle

'The Empty Cradle' cover image

The Empty Cradle

Infertility in America from Colonial Times to the Present

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 1996

In The Empty Cradle, Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner delve into the origins of the many misconceptions surrounding infertility as they explore how medical and cultural beliefs emerged throughout its controversial history. Drawing on a wide variety of sources—including intimate diaries and letters, patient records, memoirs, medical literature, and popular magazines—The Empty Cradle investigates the social, cultural, scientific, and medical dimensions of infertility over the past three hundred years.

Marsh and Ronner explore reactions—among both physicians and husbands—to the emerging scientific evidence that infertility was a condition for which men and women bear equal responsibility. The book concludes that infertility is still a subject affected by myth and misunderstanding. A lively and compelling history of a complex medical and cultural phenomenon, The Empty Cradle brings a valuable perspective to current debates about how we should think about and address the experience of infertility in our own time.