Department of History

Portrait (head shot photo)
Johanna Schoen
Professor of History; and Associate Department Chair
Degree: Ph.D. University of North Carolina, 1996
Rutgers : At Rutgers Since 2011
Specialty: Modern US: Women's and Gender History; History of Medicine
Office: 221 Van Dyck Hall
Phone: 848-932-8501





My major interests are the history of women and medicine, the history of reproductive rights, and the history of sexuality. My research traces women’s health and reproductive care through the twentieth century. My first book, Choice and Coercion: Birth Control, Sterilization, and Abortion in Public Health and Welfare, examines the role which birth control, sterilization, and abortion played in public health and welfare policies between the 1920s and the 1970s.

In 2002, I shared my research on the history of eugenic sterilization in North Carolina with a journalist from the Winston Salem Journal. North Carolina's sterilization program ran from the 1920s to the 1970s and led to the sterilization of more than 7000 people. The paper ran a week-long series of articles on the subject ( which ultimately resulted in an official apology by the governor of North Carolina. In 2007, I designed an exhibit on North Carolina’s eugenic sterilization program which opened that year in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.  In 2014, North Carolina began to pay  restitution to sterilization victims – the first state in the country to take such a step. You can follow some of the stories here:

My second book, Abortion After Roe [], traces the history of abortion since legalization. Abortion is--and always has been--an arena for contesting power relations between women and men. When in 1973 the Supreme Court made the procedure legal throughout the United States, it seemed that women were at last able to make decisions about their own bodies. In the four decades that followed, however, abortion became ever more politicized and stigmatized. Abortion after Roe chronicles and analyzes what the new legal status and changing political environment have meant for abortion providers and their patients. It sheds light on the little-studied experience of performing and receiving abortion care from the 1970s--a period of optimism--to the rise of the antiabortion movement and the escalation of antiabortion tactics in the 1980s to the 1990s and beyond, when violent attacks on clinics and abortion providers led to a new articulation of abortion care as moral work. More than four decades after the legalization of abortion, the abortion provider community has powerfully asserted that abortion care is a moral good.

I am co-directing, with Kim Mutcherson from the Rutgers Law School at Camden, a 5-year research program on abortion and reproductive justice and am working on a project that traces the feminist articulation of abortion care as moral work back to the 1970s. In addition, I am working on an anthology on Fetal and Maternal Bodies, forthcoming with Rutgers University Press and am co-editing, with Carol Boyer from the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research a volume on women leaders in health and medicine, to be published in the Junctures series by Rutgers University Press.

My research has been supported by, among others, the Social Science Research Council, the Iowa Arts and Humanities Initiative, the American Philosophical Society, and the NEH.



  • 512:104 US Development II
  • 512:391 History of Medicine in Film
  • 512:225 Sexuality in America
  • Health, Culture and Society


  • Colloquium: Women&Gender: Sexuality
  • Colloquium: History of Medicine
  • Readings: Women's and Gender History


  • Abortion Since Roe (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press: 2015).
  • “Re-Assessing Eugenic Sterilization: The Case of North Carolina,” in A Century of Eugenics in America: From the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Era, ed. by Paul Lombardo (University of Indiana Press, 2010).
  • "Birth Control in Public Health," in Silent Victories: The History and Practice of Public Health in the Twentieth Century America, ed. by John Ward and Christian Warren, (Oxford University Press, 2007): 279-303.
  • “From the Footnotes to the Headlines: Sterilization Apologies and Their Lessons,” Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC 3, no. 3 (Sept. 2006).
  • Choice and Coercion:  Birth Control, Sterilization, and Abortion in Public Health and Welfare in the Twentieth Century, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005).
  • “Between Choice and Coercion: Women and the Politics of Sterilization,” Journal of Women’s History 13, no. 1 (Spring 2001): 132-56.


  • American Historical Association
  • Organization of American Historians
  • American Association for the History of Medicine
  • National Abortion Federation
  • Berkshire Conference for the History of Women
  • American Society for Bioethics and Humanities

Upcoming Events

Tue Oct 15 @11:00AM - 01:00PM
Dana-Ain Davis: RCHA Seminar
Tue Oct 15 @ 4:30PM - 06:00PM
Carol Hager: Center for European Studies
Tue Oct 15 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
History Honors Program Information Session
Thu Oct 17 @ 6:00PM - 07:30PM
Becoming a Social Studies Teacher: Undergraduate Workshop
Tue Oct 22 @11:00AM - 01:00PM
Harish Naraindas: RCHA Seminar
Tue Oct 22 @ 5:00PM - 07:00PM
Marxism & Materialism Working Group


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