Alice Bunker Stockham 1833 – 1912

stockhamAlice Bunker Stockham 1833 – 1912 homeopath and Victorian reformer, and an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist from Chicago, the fifth woman to be made a doctor in the United States.

Stockham studied at the Eclectic Medical College, at Cincinnati, the Eclectic Medical College in Ohio, and the University of Illinois and the Chicago Homeopathic College. Stockham was a classmate of Harriet Judd Sartain and she was a founder member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Movement, alongside Sarah Hackett StevensonMary Weeks BurnettFlorence Hunt and Odelia Blinn.

In 1889 she visited England, Russia, Sweden and Finland. While in Russia she was the guest of Leo Tolstoy, who together with his wife became much interested in Tokology a book she had written for women and under their supervision it was translated into Russian. While in Sweden and Finland she visited the schools and became so much interest in Sloyd, that though her influence it was introduced into the Cook County Normal School.

In 1891 Mrs. Stockham made a tour of the world, visiting China, India, and Japan, and attended the great Theosophical Convention at Madras as the guest of Col. Olcott the renowned occultist. The great demand for her lectures finally led her to embody the substance of them in a book to which allusion has been made, entitled, Tokology. Over a half million copies of this book have already been sold.

 

From http://www.reuniting.info/wisdom/stockham_karezza She was very active in studying spirituality and the power of the mind, practiced homeopathy, believed in both the fatherhood and motherhood of God, was in favor of temperance, served as a trance medium, and was an active suffragette. continue reading:

 

From http://www.chicagohistoryfair.org/history-fair/history-fair-a-nhd-theme/subject-essays/chicago-women-history-topics.htmlIn a world where the professionalization of medicine was itself in flux, women could make strides in alternative medicine. Julia Holmes Smith completed her medical education at the Chicago Homeopathic College and practiced homeopathic medicine for the next forty years.

Homeopathy was a more hospitable field for women and in the late nineteenth century was considered by many to be a legitimate alternative to allopathic medicine. Alice Stockham also graduated from the Chicago Homeopathic College. Smith and Stockham were critical of standard medicine, especially the treatment of women’s diseases. Stockham’s book,Tokology: A Book for Every Woman (1883), was a manual on women’s health and pregnancy that sold 160,000 copies by 1891 and, six years later, was in its forty-fifth edition….

 

Alice Bunker was born of Quaker parentage at Cardington, Ohio, in 1833. When she was about three years of age her parents moved to Hastings in this state. Their home for the first year was in a log cabin, Indians were their only neighbors and for six months they never saw a white woman.

As a girl she was short, plump and endowed with great vitality and force of character. After a time her father who was a miller by profession bought a flouring mill in Bellevue and the family removed there.

She had an intense desire for a more thorough education than could be had in the district schools of the state and went to Olivet, the institution there then being in is infancy. She attended it irregularly for about four years taking nearly all the branches taught at that time. She taught school during the summer and worked for her board while attending school, some of the time in the family of Prof. E. N. Bartlett.

On her twentieth birthday she entered the Eclectic Medical College, at Cincinnati, the only medical school in the west at that time open to women. In a class of over three hundred students there were eight women. She with three others boarded themselves.

During her three years of medical study she spent her summers at various hydropathic institutions both as assistant and as student, in this way earning much of the money needed for her medical course. During her studies she met Dr. G. H. Stockham who she married in 1856 and they settled down in the practice of their profession in Lafayette, Indiana, where they remained fifteen years and there their children were born.

In 1870 the family moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, and here she began her parlor lectures to women but soon moved to Chicago.

In 1889 she visited England, Russia, Sweden and Finland. While in Russia she was the guest of Leo Tolstoy, who together with his wife became much interested in Tokology a book she had written for women and under their supervision it was translated into Russian.

While in Sweden and Finland she visited the schools and became so much interest in Sloyd, that though her influence it was introduced into the Cook County Normal School.

In 1891 Mrs. Stockham made a tour of the world, visiting China, India, and Japan, and attended the great Theosophical Convention at Madras as the guest of Col. Olcott the renowned occultist. The great demand for her lectures finally led her to embody the substance of them in a book to which allusion has been made, entitled, Tokology. Over a half million copies of this book have already been sold.

Stockham’s book, Tokology: A Book for Every Woman (1883), was a manual on women’s health and pregnancy that sold 160,000 copies by 1891 and, six years later, was in its forty-fifth edition.

Karezza: Ethics of Marriage is a book by Alice Bunker Stockham, MD, one of the first women medical school graduates in the USA. This second edition was published in 1903.

A highly-principled Quaker distressed by all the unwanted pregnancies among her patients, she saw controlled intercourse as a way to prevent reckless procreation, increase the harmony between couples, and raise spiritual awareness.

With Karezza, satiety is never known, and the married are never less than lovers; each day reveals new delights….In the physical union of male and female there may be a soul communion giving not only supreme happiness, but in turn [leading] to soul growth and development.

More than a century ago, a remarkable woman coined the term “Karezza” (Italian for “caress”) in her book, Karezza: Ethics of Marriage. Alice Bunker Stockham, MD counsels avoiding orgasm during sex for the same reasons as does Peace Between the Sheets, namely: better health, and greater harmony and spiritual attainment.

Stockham married a doctor and they had two children. Although she was a general practitioner, she specialized in obstetrics and gynecology. Fifteen years before she wrote Karezza, she authored a popular text entitled, Tokology (Greek for “Obstetrics”).

Written for lay readers, it covered all aspects of women’s and children’s health and was far ahead of its time. For example, she recommended natural childbirth, eating a high-fiber diet, exercising during pregnancy to promote a pain-free childbirth, using the mind to heal illness, and, above all, doing away with corsets!

She boldly advocated sexual continence during pregnancy and to prevent pregnancy, which brought her into conflict with the authorities as it was illegal to promote birth control. She argued that the widespread belief that women should be legally forced to participate in ejaculatory sex – lest they go to any length to avoid the travails of childbirth – was nonsense.

She also traveled extensively, and Tokology was translated into French, Finnish, German and Russian (with a forward by Leo Tolstoy). Ultimately she founded her own publishing company to publish forward-thinking works.

Stockham was a multi-faceted reformer. Inspired by the Swedes, she is credited with introducing workshop classes into American schools. In addition, she provided copies of Tokology to penniless women and former prostitutes to sell door-to-door to earn their livings (including with each volume a certificate for a free gynecological exam at her clinic).

She was very active in studying spirituality and the power of the mind, practiced homeopathy, believed in both the fatherhood and motherhood of God, was in favor of temperance, served as a trance medium, and was an active suffragette. continue reading:

A copy of Tokology is held in the IISH archive http://search.socialhistory.org/Record/774781

Stockham was a prodigious author, and in addition to Tokology A Book For Every Woman and Karezza Ethics of Marriage, she also wrote Koradine: A Prophetic Story, Koradine: A Prophetic Story and Koradine Letters: A Girl’s Own Book with Lida Hood Talbot, Sexual Indulgence and Denial: Variations on Continence with Ezra Hervey Heywood and John Humphrey Noyes, Tolstoi: A Man of Peace; The New Spirit with Havelock Ellis, The Lover’s World; a Wheel of Life and many others. Stockham also published the Kindergarten Magazine.

Stockham was mentioned in A Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-seventy Biographical Sketches by Mary Ashton Rice Livermore, and in the introduction to The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy.

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