See a roughly contemporary pad, Society, and a "silent purchase" ad for Modess, 1928.
Other Modess ads: 1931,"Modess . . . . because" ads, the French Modess, and the German "Freedom" (Kimberly-Clark) for teens.
See a prototype of the first Kotex ad.
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:

MUM address & What does MUM mean? |
Email the museum |
Privacy on this site |
Who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! |
Art of menstruation |
Artists (non-menstrual) |
Asbestos |
Belts |
Bidets |
Founder bio |
Bly, Nellie |
MUM board |
Books: menstruation and menopause (and reviews) |
Cats |
Company booklets for girls (mostly) directory |
Contraception and religion |
Costumes |
Menstrual cups |
Cup usage |
Dispensers |
Douches, pain, sprays |
Essay directory |
Extraction |
Facts-of-life booklets for girls |
Famous women in menstrual hygiene ads |
Founder/director biography |
Gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux |
Humor |
Huts |
Links |
Masturbation |
Media coverage of MUM |
Menarche booklets for girls and parents |
Miscellaneous |
Museum future |
Norwegian menstruation exhibit |
Odor |
Olor |
Pad directory |
Patent medicine |
Poetry directory |
Products, some current |
Puberty booklets for girls and parents|
Religion |
Religión y menstruación |
Your remedies for menstrual discomfort |
Menstrual products safety |
Seguridad de productos para la menstruación |
Science |
Shame |
Slapping, menstrual |
Sponges |
Synchrony |
Tampon directory |
Early tampons |
Teen ads directory |
Tour of the former museum (video) |
Underpants & panties directory |
Videos, films directory |
Words and expressions about menstruation |
Would you stop menstruating if you could? |
What did women do about menstruation in the past? |
Washable pads |
Read 10 years (1996-2006) of articles and Letters to Your MUM on this site.
Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.


The perfect menstrual pad 1 (2 2a 3 4 4a 5)
"Report of Gilbreth, Inc.," to the Johnson & Johnson company, 1 January 1927, about how
to improve the company's menstrual products, especially in competition with Kotex pads

In the mid 1920s, R. W. Johnson, of the Johnson & Johnson company, U.S.A., asked efficiency expert Dr. Lillian Gilbreth to find out what women liked and disliked about menstrual pads, belts, and the various menstrual underwear available, and gather information to make the One Best Pad.

Later, Gilbreth became known as "the mother of modern management" as well as of twelve children (read her biography) sired by her husband, Frank, likewise an efficiency expert, who died in 1924. Some of the children wrote the popular books Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes about their childhood with famous - and efficient - parents. Hollywood made movies of the books in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In the mid 1920s American women used Kotex pads far more than any other commercial napkin - commercial tampons didn't appear until the early 1930s, and menstrual cups probably in the 1930s - and Johnson wanted to find out why. His own brands, Lister's, Nupak and Modess, competed with dozens of brands for the rest of the market.


By the time of the report, 1927, commercial disposable pads had mostly replaced washable pads (above, a commercial washable from the Sears, Roebuck catalog, fall 1921, which also advertised disposables.)
The ad text, above, reads, "Made of a four-ply birdseye cloth with a piece of rubber sheeting inserted for protection. A lasting sanitary napkin that can be thoroughly cleaned. Shipping weight, 5 ounces." Women had often made their own pads from birdseye cloth, also used for children's diapers.
Gilbreth gave questionnaires to college students, including some at Smith, Wellesley, New Jersey College for Women, Antioch, as well as to some business women and high school girls, and got back 1037 out of 2543 distributed.
She asked them about their napkin and belt practices, including whether or not they altered the pads, why and how, before wearing them; how many they used; where they bought them; etc. The respondents wrote what they liked and disliked about products and suggested improvements.

I will cover a few topics of the report, and give her conclusions and recommendations, many of which are valid today.

In sum, the 134-page typewritten report, with tables of statistics but no illustrations, constitutes probably the first formal analysis of women's attitudes about menstrual products. Up to that point, manufacturers seemed to base their pads and belts on nineteenth-century products - and their intuition. Lillian Gilbreth and Johnson & Johnson changed that.

NEXT: (college student's design & Smith College)

Gilbreth Report: 2 (college student's design & Smith College) 2a (names and the color blue) 3 (belts & accessories) 4 (conclusions & recommendations) 4a (a perfect pad?) 5 (last recommendation)

The copy of the report that I read, which might be unique, rests in the special collections of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.A. Dr. Gilbreth was the first woman engineering professor at Purdue.
© 2000 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to