Molly Nebiolo

Molly Nebiolo

Friends of MCEAS FellowPh.D Candidate, Northeastern University

Constructing Health: Concepts of Well-Being in the Early Atlantic World

I am a historian of early American urban history, the history of medicine and health, environmental history, and digital humanities. My dissertation argues that public health was integral to the shaping of early American cities at a time when there were no departments of public health. It uncovers how city planners continuously strove to make cities healthy through proactive planning, thereby entrenching public health as an agenda in colonial America. The larger work is a socio-cultural analysis of the pre-planned cities of Philadelphia, Charleston, and Savannah that spans their history from surveying and settlement in the 1670s-80s through the advent of departments of public health in the 1790s. Studying the process of their construction and evolution illuminates not only early modern notions of public health but foregrounds the role health played in the formation of distinctly “American” conceptions of health and medicine that emerged by the end of the eighteenth century. As a DHer, I have also worked in various capacities for the Women Writers Project, the Boston Research Center, the Digital Cities Research Network, the Center for Digital Scholarship at the American Philosophical Society, and the Digital Diary of John Quincy Adams at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

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