See Dr. Grace Feder Thompson's letter
appealing for patients, Dr. Pierce's
medical empire and Lydia
E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound
Treatment for Women,"
(aka "CARDUI Home Treatment of
Female Diseases"), before 1920?
Chattanooga Medicine Company,
Complete booklet, 64 pages plus
Cardui, one of thousands of
patent medicines in the 19th and
20th centuries, seems to have
found favor mainly in the southern
half of the United States, judging
by the origins of the many
testimonials in this booklet.
Maybe the Chattanooga Medicine
Co., based in Tennessee,
distributed its bottles
and packets only to that area. But
Century Song Book
(1904) lists factories in San
Francisco and St. Louis and, of
course, Chattanooga; and a Martha
Killian writes from South Africa
to praise the tonic.
One of the many afflictions
these three medicines - Cardui,
Black Draught, and Cardoseptic -
treated was "female weakness,"
which the unremitting housework
and endless childbirths and
children might have brought on
took it too). Medicine, not
perfect today, was much less so in
the 19th and early 20th centuries
and the sick and tired often
looked to their druggists for
healing, just as we do today.
Think of all the supplements,
mostly unregulated, that we
(see the Cardui label with
ingredients) among them.
Same thing back then.
And this is also the same: if
people wait long enough, with or
without medicine, many disorders
clear up by themselves, something
doctors know and knew. So during
the weeks and months and years
these folks imbibed Cardui and its
siblings some disorders would have
cleared up anyway.
Pinkham made similar
cure-alls and became fabulously
Booklets like this are museums
of rural speech. Some words and
phrases are probably gone forever.
I would love to hear the speakers
of the time talk.
This booklet appeared before
radio began to smooth out regional
differences in the 1920s by
allowing listeners to hear
speakers far away from the little
towns and farms that many never
left. But my stepmother, from
North Carolina, dumbfounded an
elevatorful of New Jersey
residents in that state by
exchanging some words with my
father (a New Jerseyite). She
laughed and said that one person
told her they did not know people
really spoke like that and thought
she was faking it. So even today
there are surprises. Vive la
As an artist
I find the illustrations fabulous,
better than the Wall Street
Journal's daily portraits of
people in the news. Drawing for
publication prevailed over
photography then, which had just
started in printed media a few
decades earlier so there was a
large number of experienced
pain reliever pills for
menstruation: old tins
(containers), old ads, old
generously donated the booklet.
Front cover. The booklet measures
5 1/4 x 7 5/8" (about 13.5 x 19.3
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