Query: 50th Anniversary of the Pill

Friends and Colleagues:

On Mothers Day this year (believe it or not) the media and others will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the approval of Enovid, the first “Pill” allowed to be labeled for contraceptive purposes.  FDA will be preparing briefing packets for the media and some of you who have written on the subject may be contacted as per my recommendations to the FDA Office of Public Affairs.  If you are interested in being included in my list of potential interviewees, please let me know.

The FDA History Office has also been tasked with creating an “in-house” exhibit to commemorate the event and educate our own employees and others.  Plans are for it to serve as a foundation for creation of a virtual exhibit on the Internet.  Our most pressing problem is a lack of visually stimulating materials for the exhibit.  We have the NDA, some product labeling, a few ads past and present, a few dial paks but not much more that would draw anyone’s immediate interest.  A friend used a picture of the Pope in an exhibit they did on contraception, but I don’t think that is an option for us!

I would very much appreciate your assistance in helping us to locate ANYTHING that might relate to the Pill, or the era in which it was approved, which would be suitable for the exhibit — visual impact is important.    We can borrow or buy depending on the owner’s preference.  Ideas and suggestions are also welcome — it is possible that we can create facsimiles of things that people know about from the era but do not possess.

Thanks in advance and I can keep anyone interested in the loop as the plans for the anniversary and the exhibit evolve.

Suzanne Junod

** Please note that my e-mail address has changed:   it is now Suzanne.Junod@fda.hhs.gov

Published in: on February 5, 2010 at 9:26 am  Comments (8)  

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  1. Hi Suzanne,

    This sounds great! Because the Worcester Foundation (where Pincus and Chang did their work on the pill) merged with UMass Med some years back, we have photos of them and possibly others that might be of interest (no charge) J . I’m copying this to our Archivist, Kris Reinhard, so she can be in touch with you directly.

    I bet the NLM has a bunch of stuff too. And, there is the contraception exhibit out at Jim Edmunds’ shop at Case Western. Have a great time with this! Ellen

    Ellen S. More, Ph.D.

    Head, Office of Medical History and Archives

    Lamar Soutter Library

    Professor, Department of Psychiatry

    University of Massachusetts Medical School

    55 Lake Ave. North

    Worcester, MA 01655

    ph. 508 856-7633

    fax 508 856-5039


  2. Here in the Wellcome Library we have a couple of archival collections which include a good deal of advertising material, product literature and packaging relating to oral (and other) contraception in the UK the Family Planning Association archives, and materials put together by R J Hetherington as a result of his concerns over the effects of hormonal contraception. The Ephemera Collection also includes a good deal of contraceptive material. However, it would require someone to delve into the fairly copious files in question to identify materials and I am also not sure what the copyright issues would be about using advertising from medical journals, product literature of firms that are still commercially active, etc. Wellcome Images http://images.wellcome.ac.uk/ could probably advise.
    The Science Museum in London http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/ also has a significant artefact collection of contraception generally.

    Dr Lesley A Hall
    Archives and Manuscripts
    Wellcome Library
    183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, England UK
    Tel: +44 (0) 207 611 8483 Fax: +44 ( 0) 207 611 8703
    email l.hall@wellcome.ac.uk
    The Wellcome Trust is a charity registered in
    England, no. 210183.
    Its sole Trustee is The Wellcome Trust Limited, a company
    registered in England, no. 2711000, whose registered office
    is 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE.
    The Library’s latest Year in Review and Vital Statistics are now available as PDF documents for viewing and downloading. A limited number of print copies of the Year in Review will be available on request from t.tillotson@wellcome.ac.uk

  3. Suzanne:

    There was also a fellow who gave a talk/was noted in a talk at the AAHM about eight years ago (New Jersey meeting?). He was the engineer who designed the rotating pack for the Pill (he wanted to be sure Pill taking was easily ‘trackable’ — no missed Pills).

    I apologize for being so vague — I don’t recall his name — but there were lovely photos from the 1960s of early packages and of his family, including his wife.

    Marianne Fedunkiw

  4. Hi Suzanne,

    I suggest contacting Deborah Scarborough at the historical library at ACOG. Also, I the medical museum in Cleveland where the reception was held at AAHM last year (can’t remember the name of it) is putting together an exhibit on contraception. Elaine Tyler May is working on a social history of the pill so probably has material that would be relevant. Finally, a history of the pill, in my opinion, should also include Barbara Seaman’s work critiquing the FDA. See her papers at the Schlesinger Library.

    Heather Munro Prescott, Ph.D.
    Professor of History
    Central Connecticut State University
    1615 Stanley Street
    New Britain, CT 06050-4010
    860-832-2804 (fax)

  5. […] digital history seminar. The other is Women Historians of Medicine, where we are having a lively discussion about suggestions for an exhibit honoring the 50th anniversary of the Pill that Suzanne Junod at […]

  6. The exhibit on contraception, of which I was guest curator, is open at the Dittrick Medical History Center at Case Western Reserve University. See http://www.case.edu/affil/skuyhistcontraception/index.html
    and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cleveland-OH/Dittrick-Museum-of-Medical-History/273783990465
    and dittrick.blogspot.com/. Become a Facebook fan!

    Today is my LAST day at my day job (retiring–yah!), so I’d be glad to assist.

    Jimmy W Meyer

  7. David Wagner is the fellow who designed the pill pak. Google “gossell packaging the pill” for an article on his work.

    Ms. Jimmy E. Wilkinson Meyer, Ph.D. 330.263.2243

    Assistant Editor, Wooster 330-263-2592 FAX JMeyer@wooster.edu

    The College of Wooster

    108 Ebert Art Center

    1220 Beall Ave.

    Wooster, OH 44691

  8. To fill in the blanks below, Patricia Peck Gossel’s chapter in Bud, Manifesting Medicine, examines the work of David Wagner, the engineer mentioned below, and is illustrated with photos of his prototypes and other examples of pill packaging which I believe are held by the National Museum of American History.

    Erin McLeary

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