John C. Burnham

Research Professor

John C. Burnham; B.A., Stanford University, 1951; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1952; Ph.D., Stanford University, 1958.

Professor Burnham specializes in the history of medicine and American social history; his particular interest is the history of psychiatry. His recent books include How Superstition Won and Science Lost: Popularizing Science and Health in the United States (1987), Paths into American Culture: Psychology, Medicine, and Morals (1988), Bad Habits: Drinking, Smoking, Taking Drugs, Gambling, Sexual Misbehavior, and Swearing in American History (1993), How the Idea of Profession Changed the Writing of Medical History (1998), and What Is Medical History? (2005). His newest book is Accident Prone: A History of Technology, Psychology, and Misfits of the Machine Age (2009). Dr. Burnham is presently studying the impact of Freud on the Western world, and also the deinstitutionalization of mental patients in the 1950s.

Professor Burnham has taught at Stanford and the Claremont Colleges, and he has been a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in Australia at the Universities of Melbourne, Tasmania, and New England. He has also served as the Tallman Visiting Professor at Bowdoin College. In 2002-2003, he was a visiting fellow at Robinson College in the University of Cambridge. He has served as President of the American Association for the History of Medicine and has held many other offices in scholarly organizations both in the United States and abroad, and he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Areas of Expertise
  • US History to 1877

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