Reagan’s lecture addresses what happened when the nation made abortion a crime, including history from the 1860s and 1870s. Searching through court records, inquests, newspaper investigations, medical data and more, Reagan uncovered the dire consequences of criminalization and the methods used to enforce laws. She will also pose the questions: “How much of the history of the pre-Roe v. Wade era has remained in the past and how much has returned to our present?”

Reagan is associate professor of history at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her fields of research include U.S. medicine and public health, history of women and gender. Reagan’s most recent book, “Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America,” was published by the University of California Press in 2010. She is an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer. The OAH promotes excellence in the scholarship, teaching and presentation of American history, and encourages wide discussion of historical questions and equitable treatment of all practitioners of history.

A photo of Reagan is available for download at

Sponsored by the USD Department of History, the Schell Lecture is named after Dean Herbert S. Schell (1899-1994), who served the University of South Dakota and the State of South Dakota for more than 40 years. Schell provided leadership as history department chair from 1946 to 1955. From 1936 to 1964, he served as director and then dean of the USD Graduate School. Following his retirement, Schell was University Archivist and received the title Dean Emeritus in 1969. Additionally, he was presented with the Will G. Robinson Memorial Award and was inducted into the Western Writers Hall of Fame for his work in western and South Dakota history.

For more information about the 2011 Schell Lecture, please contact the University of South Dakota Department of History at (605) 677-5218 or visit the department’s website at

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