Ridge Prize to Professor Cody


Lisa Cody, associate professor of history and department chair, has won the prestigious Judith Lee Ridge Prize of the Western Association of Women Historians for the second time in three years. Cody was awarded the 2005 Ridge Prize for an article originally published in the Bulletin for the History of Medicine, focusing on epidemiological conditions in London maternity hospitals of the 18th century.

The Ridge Prize is the largest regional prize of its type. It is awarded annually to the best article in any historical or related field written by a member of the Association, founded in 1969 to promote the interests of women historians. With more than 400 members, it is the largest regional women’s historical association in the United States.

Committee members said Cody’s article, Living and Dying in Georgian London’s Lying-in Hospitals, is a major revision in the field.

“Professor Cody’s meticulous archival research demonstrated convincingly that the received wisdom in the fieldthat male midwives’ interventions increased maternal mortalitysimply were not borne out by the facts in the case of the British Lying-in Hospital,” says Ridge Prize representative Sarah Stage.

Cody’s book, Birthing the Nation: Sex, Science, and the Conception of Eighteenth-Century Britons, was published earlier this year by Oxford University Press. In it, she interweaves two historical narratives that shaped 18th-century British life: the development of the modern British state and changes in customs of childbirth. Investigating man-midwifery, folklore, and superstition surrounding childbirth, Cody examines how birth and midwifery came to symbolize British national, religious, ethnic, and gendered identities.

Cody joined CMC in 1996. She is a graduate of Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley.