(Travel Fellow, 2020-21)
Sampling Blindness: The Role of Statistics in New Deal America and Beyond, 1930-1950
Leah Samples is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Her areas of interest include the history of disability, the body, medicine, and science in the mid-twentieth century. Leah is at work on two research projects. Samples’ dissertation, “SEE: The State, Science, and Sightlessness in New Deal America,” examines the management and construction of blindness in early-to-mid twentieth-century America from the New Deal to the end of World War II, focusing on the many imbrications between technical knowledge systems and federal policy toward the blind. The other looks at the history of plastic surgery in the postwar period with a particular focus on Dr. Alma Dea Morani’s early professional career as the first woman plastic surgeon as a case study to better understand how surgical classifications, techniques, and technologies have expressed hierarchical ideas of gendered value.