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 4 (1 2 3 4a 5):
Conclusions and recommendations

"Report of Gilbreth, Inc.," to Johnson & Johnson Company, 1 January 1927, about
how to improve the company's menstrual products, especially with regard to competition with Kotex pads

Dr. Gilbreth's report changed the way companies made and marketed pads. Although I have just hinted at her findings, I will quote her conclusions and mostly summarize her recommendations. I did not report on the second part of her paper dealing with contributing to the "health problem," but some of her comments refer to that.

Dr. Gilbreth's Recommendations for Napkins (menstrual pads) [partly my summary, partly quotes]




Above: The improved Modess pad (from the MUM collection), probably from the 1930s, mostly conforming to Gilbreth's recommendations.
Note the rounded corners of the filler and the different lengths of the tabs. But the tabs do not taper, as recommended, and the filler is the same thickness throughout rather than being thicker in the center.
Here are closer views of this pad, its box and a sheet of instructions and advertising within.

(see the almost-perfect 1930s Modess, at right [in more detail, here]: tabs are gauze, the long, flat ends of pads that had no filler and attached to a holding device, like a belt)

1. The front tab should be shorter than the back. (See why.)

2. The tabs should be shorter than they are now in Modess.

But tabs can't be made to fit every woman because some women wear belts at their waists, some at their hips.

Because the quality of gauze in sanitary napkins is not good enough to use with safety pins or grips, the wearer must fold it and this requires extra length.

3. Tapered tabs would be good if the quality of gauze improves; women achieve this now by folding.

(the thick part in the center of the pad that absorbs the menstrual discharge)

1. The center of the filler should be thicker than any other part.

2. The thickness should be graduated toward the ends.

3. If the corners are cut off or rounded, the present length of the Modess filler is all right, but it would be more satisfactory to many if it were 0.5 inch shorter (ca. 1.25 cm)

4. If the corners are left square, the filler could be one inch shorter (2.54 cm)

5. The sides of the filler should be rounded

6. The lower fold of should reach completely over to the edge of the filler, and the upper fold should go completely over the filler so that even with the outer edge folded in, the filler is completely covered twice. By covering twice, we mean that only the back of the filler should have two layers of gauze.

7. The raw edge of the gauze should be folded in so that there will be no danger of loose threads raveling out.

8. The gauze should be softer in quality than that in the present Modess napkin. Flimsy gauze over a fiber filler is especially harsh.

General Conclusions of the Report [directly quoted from the report]

1. A general health campaign on the subject of menstruation is advisable.

2. This should address the fact that the normal woman can safely pursue her usual program and profit by so doing.

3. The woman who is not normal in any respect should have expert advice. This in most cases takes the form of special exercises, corrective work, abdominal supports, etc. These may be combined with psychiatric treatment of some sort to remove fears and worries.

4. Such a health campaign could best be conducted probably by some institution which has already gained the confidence of the public and especially of the women and which is not suspected of a commercial bias.

5. No one type of sanitary napkin can possibly meet all needs. Where price is no object, a cotton napkin is preferable to the product made of fibre or paper. At least three sizes are indicated.

General Recommendations of the Report [mostly my summary]

1. The health campaign should be carried out

2. Combine the results of this report with others that J & J may have to find similarities and dissimilarities, and why

3. Study carefully the number of types of pads J & J needs to make to meet all needs. Continue Nupak and continue Modess in its smaller form. It's questionable that a large fiber [fill] napkin should be made to compete with Kotex. College and young business women like the small Modess, but older women may want to continue with a large Kotex-like pad, but cheaper.

4. Advertise anything, but not disposability. "Heads of dormitories" and others would welcome a campaign stressing that in the present situation, pads clog plumbing

5. Use people who are already established for future research

6. [Not readable in my notes.]

7. People who filled out questionnaires are more likely to want to try out new pads

8. Don't make changes in the J & J laboratory before all reports have been studied and compared

9. Make these changes in the Modess pad:

a. Rounded sides with cotton wrapping

b. Soft filler with soft gauze covering

c. Gauze of sufficient body to insure a feeling of safety

d. Gauze folded completely over the filler and its raw edge turned under

10. Women demand that the pad be inconspicuous; this must be done! Cut off the corners if it is not too expensive or difficult

11. Comfort is the first requirement, according to the questionnaires

12. Click for the last recommendation!

NEXT: Last recommendation
Gilbreth Report: 1 (introduction) 2 (college student's design & Smith College) 2a (names and colors) 3 (belts & accessories) 4a (a perfect pad?) 5 (last recommendation)

The copy of the report that I read, which may 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