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February 17, 2010


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50 years and there is still much controversy over giving women the right to their own bodies. Oh well, maybe in another 50 we will be beyond all the hoopla over reproductive rights.

muzik dinle

I remember watching a documentary of the introduction of the pill within the US. It was amazing to see the hundreds of women lining up at doctors clinics for a prescription.


50 years ago...I can remember when the pill was announced. As a teenage boy I,as did my pals,thought this was going to revolutionize our sex lives. This sadly was not the case.
"Are you on the pill?" became a standard question when I entered college in the late 60's.
Thanks for the article and bringing back some memories.


It's interesting how the pill has spawned or even enhanced a plethora a different industries over 50 years.

Surprisingly the debate still continues whether it has really helped or hindered womens happiness. Is women better off because of the pill? The jury is still out for many people.

Ernie Simons

Whats funny is how it instantly became such a big part of all our lives.


I think the Contraceptive Pill was the cornerstone behind feminism and sexual liberation for women. Dont you agree?


Looks like a very interesting collection, thanks for posting.

Esther Cervantes

Have you read Gabriela Soto Laveaga's book Jungle Laboratories: Mexican Peasants, National Projects, and the Making of the Pill? (http://bit.ly/aSgAiN) It tells the story of the Pill's origins in hormones synthesized from a yam indigenous to Mexico, and how Mexico promoted this new use of that yam to the peasants who grew it.


I remember watching a documentary of the introduction of the pill within the US. It was amazing to see the hundreds of women lining up at doctors clinics for a prescription.


It's articles like this one that make surfing the Web such a treat!

I had never thought about the Pill having a history, though, of course, it does!

Something that struck me was the blasé instructions to take the PIll, almost as inconsequentially as flossing one's teeth. No real medical cautionary advice was being given on packaging back in the day!

Please write more articles like this!

Olafur Thor

I like it that the national museum of American History is taking this stance and displaying this on the 50th anniversary of the pill. I think the pill did give many women both young and old, married or unmarried to have a bigger influence on birth control without having to rely on her or her partner to remember putting on birth control. However interestingly is that it also could give false security to some as it is stated on the packages above if you forget to take one, the chance is you could get pregnant. Maybe this is a fact often forgotten today as I have a couple of friends that have become pregnant while on the pill but when quizzed if they had missed out a day they replied sheepishly "YES" but they didn't know that could result in pregnancy perhaps that is a general misunderstanding in today's world and perhaps they should advertise it again?

Anyway I enjoyed this blog post and when I told my friends about this exhibit at your museum the reaction was laughter at first but after it sunk in they all found this a very important piece of history :)

I also found it a great joy to see that they marketed it as an acne solution because acne is often caused by hormonal imbalance and the pill is a hormone regulator.. gotta love science and the constant improvements in it.

well thanks for the post, thoroughly enjoyed it :)


Dawn Black

Very interesting article. I accidentally came across this while researching problems getting pregnant. As a young child I remember my mom giving my younger brother an empty dispenser similar to the picture of the Ortho-Novum SQ Dialpak 20, 1970 shown in your article to play with to distract him from crying. I can't believe the pill has been around for 50 years.


This was very entertaining and informative. I especially like the packaging and ads from decades ago. What an interesting job you have.

Maria Columbus

As a marketing consultant, I don't know how they managed to get away with the brush your teeth concept. Including the soap was just plain tacky. You almost wonder if they had a woman on the marketing team at all.

Diane Wendt, National Museum of American History


I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post about our contraceptive pill collection. I don’t remember coming across anything from pill manufactures (e.g advertising, booklets, packaging) that is aimed at girls or very young women. The age of women pictured in the advertising literature is pretty indeterminate and I don’t think the manufacturers ever suggested that their product was for the young/unmarried. A more recent development, the marketing of birth control for its acne- clearing “side effect” may suggest a younger market. I would be very interested to hear what kinds of things you have found in this area – it may help suggest something else to me.


Diane Wendt
Associate Curator, Medicine and Science

Heather Munro Prescott

Great blog post. I'm researching an article on girls and the material culture of contraception. Have you come across anything aimed specifically at girls/young women?


Wow! What a trip down memory lane. I have first hand knowledge of the Ortho-Novum "dial-a-pill" pak. Have to agree with the first commenter. The invention of the pill has probably had more societal impact than anything else I can think of.


Great post! It's crazy how we used to advertise birth control.


That may be one of the coolest displays in a museum that I may have seen. I can not believe that it has been 50 years for the pill. I was wondering if you were able to document any of the side effects to see how they have progressed during the years gone by. It might be interesting to compare what the pill has helped with along with what the pill has produced (side effects wise). No the less very interesting to see the tooth brush/pill kit. Can't say mom and dad ever talked about that much:) haha!

Jacob Foos

Not the most relevant subject to me, but what a hilarious anecdotal intro! Can't wait to read more of your blog posts.


Wow....50 years! I honestly thought the pill was older than that.

Either way, I think it's one of the best and most underappreciated discoveries of the 1900s.

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