Curator, Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing


PhD University of Pennsylvania

MBE Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

BA Oberlin College

Jessica Martucci holds a PhD in the History & Sociology of Science from Penn and has also completed a postdoc and the MBE program in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Perelman School of Medicine. Her research interests explore the ways that power, marginalization, and identity influence the production and uptake of knowledge and technology in medicine and science. She is particularly interested in the ways that marginalized and intersectional identities shape people's participation in and experiences of the U.S. healthcare system. She has published widely in academic and popular outlets including The Journal of Women’s History, The Bulletin of the History of Medicine, The Journal of Medical Ethics,, Perspectives, and Distillations.

Her book, Back to the Breast: Natural Motherhood and Breastfeeding in America, traces the back-to-the-breast movement in the second half of the 20th century from mid-century scientific work on the psychological development of infants and mothers to suburban living rooms, and eventually, hospitals. She has also written critically about the ethical implications behind the ways that the construction of breastfeeding as a natural practice has influenced contemporary breastfeeding policies, culture, and expertise.

Martucci’s more recent work has delved further into issues of contemporary relevance, ranging from the history of religious influences in U.S. healthcare to the ethical issues of access, justice, and equity in genetic medicine. She is a member of the International Working Group on Catholic Medicine & Ethics based in KU Leuven, where she has been examining the history of the influence of Catholicism on American medicine through the history of Catholic Physicians Guilds, the Catholic Healthcare Association, and the Ethical and Religious Directives through a transnational lens.

In addition to her academic research, Martucci is an accomplished public medical humanities scholar. Drawing upon archival research alongside methods in oral history and ethnography, she works to uplift traditionally marginalized voices on experiences of disability and healthcare for public audiences. This work has been featured in museum exhibitions, public programs, podcasts, and digital and social media platforms. She is the co-founder of The Beyond Better Project, an interdisciplinary public medical humanities effort to destabilize ableist narratives in American healthcare through storytelling, history, and art, which can be found on Instagram @TheBeyondBetterProject. She works as the Curator for the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, a unique historical collection that explores the role of nurses and the nursing profession in the history of healthcare.

In keeping with her interests in bringing historical and marginalized perspectives to contemporary conversations in science and medicine, Martucci is a dedicated teacher and mentor. Having supervised students at all levels, undergrad through PhD, she enjoys teaching and working with students to develop and pursue their educational and career goals. Her students have enjoyed a wide range of successes, going on to pursue careers varying from tenured professors to public health experts to physicians, nurses, midwives, and beyond.


Selected Work


Books & Collections

 Back to the Breast: Natural Motherhood and Breastfeeding in America. University of Chicago, 2015. 

 “The Nursing Bra” in Designing Motherhood for MIT Press. 2021, forthcoming.

 “A Habit that Worries Me Very Much: Raising Good Boys and Girls in the Postwar Era,” in Pink and Blue: The Gendered Culture of Pediatrics edited by Elena Conis, Sandra Eder, and Aimee Medeiros. 2021.



J. Martucci, R. Stahl, J. Vandendreissche (July 2022) "One Religion, Two Paths: Making Sense of US and Belgian Catholic Hospitals' Approaches to IVF," Journal of Religious History

J. Martucci (July 2020) “The Barrier-Free Meeting that Helped Build a Movement,” All of Us.

 E. Preston, H. Fagen, J. Martucci, A. Barnhill, (September 2019) “Understanding the baby-friendly hospital initiative: A multidisciplinary analysis" International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics.

 J. Martucci (December 2018) “Invited Commentary: “If by ‘natural’ you mean ‘good’: In pursuit of the natural childbirth,” AMA Journal of Medical Ethics.

 J. Martucci (June 2018) “The Life and Legacy of Niles Polk Rumely Newton: Breastfeeding Researcher, Advocate and Mother, 1923-1993,” The Journal of Human Lactation. Published online first: doi:

 J. Martucci (June 2018) “Religion, Politics and Medicine: Catholic Physicians’ Guilds, 1909-1932,” The Bulletin in the History of Medicine.  

 J. Martucci and H. Schmidt (June 2018) “Towards More Effective Online Information Support for Mammography Screening Decisions,” Preventive Medicine.

 J. Martucci and A. Barnhill (April 2018). “Breastfeeding, the Natural, and the Ethics of Health Communication” for The Journal of Medical Ethics. Published online first: doi: 10.1136/medethics-2017-104455.  

 J. Martucci and A. Barnhill (March 2016) “Unintended Consequences of Invoking the ‘Natural’ in Breastfeeding Promotion,” Pediatrics.

 J. Martucci (June 2015) “Why Breastfeeding? Infant Feeding and Natural Motherhood in Post-War America,” The Journal of Women’s History.


 Public Scholarship

 J. Martucci and B. Dahlberg (November 2020-present) The Beyond Better Project on Instagram, @thebeyondbetterproject and online

J. Martucci (March 24, 2020) “Medicinal Leeches and Where to Find Them,” Distillations. Available online:

J. Martucci (July 2019) “Disability and the Myth of the Independent Scientist,” Distillations. Available online:

 J. Martucci (February 2019) “Whose Knowledge Counts? Scientists with Cognitive Differences,” Distillations. Available online:

 J. Martucci (November 2018) “Through the Lens of Disability,” DistillationsAvailable online:


Courses Taught

HSOC 448: Gender, Bodies, Science and Medicine

STSC 409: Disability and Science

HSOC 344: Disability and Epidemics



Faculty Bookshelf