In 1995, a woman who read an article about this museum in the Chicago Tribune newspaper donated boxes of fax, Fibs, and other tampons and advertising material from the 1930s left by her father, who had worked for Kotex.
In 2001, Procter & Gamble, owner of Tampax and Always pads, donated scores of boxes of tampons and other menstrual products from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Ads for the Kotex stick tampon (U.S.A., 1970s) - a Japanese stick tampon from the 1970s.
Early commercial tampons - Rely tampon - Meds tampon (Modess)
And, of course, the first Tampax AND - special for you! - the American fax tampon, from the early 1930s, which also came in bags.
See a Modess True or False? ad in The American Girl magazine, January 1947, and actress Carol Lynley in "How Shall I Tell My Daughter" booklet ad (1955) - Modess . . . . because ads (many dates).
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:
homepage | MUM address & What does MUM mean? | e-mail the museum | privacy on this site | who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! | the 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 | FAQ | 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, current | puberty booklets for girls and parents | religion | Religión y menstruación | your remedies for menstrual discomfort | menstrual products safety | science | Seguridad de productos para la menstruación | 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
Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.


Tambrands Gives Second Great Gift to MUM!

Last week [in Nov. 1997], Tambrands, the former maker of Tampax tampons, sent this museum four more cases of duplicate material they could not take with them to Cincinnati, Ohio, the headquarters of Procter & Gamble. P & G bought Tambrands recently. The cases contained over 300 packages of tampons from around the world, and other material, including promotional items from its competitors in the 1960s and 1970s. Together with the material sent a month ago, Tambrands has sent MUM over 450 packages of tampons and other products, plus hundreds of pages of advertising and related items and files on rival companies. It's a fantastic gift! Below are a few of the items it gave to this museum last week.


Tambrands marked this package as being from about 1936, the year the company started selling tampons. The company sent MUM an intact case of twelve unopened packets, all with cellophane covering, plus dealers instructions and extra instructions for users.
And the donor sent MUM at least one box of its tampons from every decade of its existence.


DON'T TOUCH THIS IMAGE! Just kidding! I show this box from France because of the name, medicalese for what Americans call German measles.
Tambrands sent MUM dozens of boxes of tampons from France (including a box of Tampax in French from 1938), Japan, Finland, Holland, Belgium, Greece, Italy and Germany, mostly from the 1970s.
The "rec'd." notice comes from Tambrands


At left I show tampons associated with P & G (image links to Trust; here is Soft Shape), including the ill-fated Rely, which was involved in the toxic shock disaster of the early 1980s. Tampax is its first tampon since then. A hand at Tambrands wrote on the boxes.

Why "On the Rag" Means Menstruation

This e-mail a few days ago from North Carolina explains what many women all over the world have been doing for their periods for eons:


I stumbled over your Web site and thoroughly enjoyed perusing it!

My mother grew up in the North Carolina mountains during the 1920s and 1930s, and there was no money for any kind of disposable pads even if they could find them. She told me that each girl (or woman) had a rag collection for use during her period. You would have enough rags for three or four pads. The rags would be folded together and pinned into underwear, and later washed and hung out to dry. Between periods, they were kept in a special bag in one's underwear drawer.

This is the kind of history that most fascinates me - not wars, but the little everyday things that people did and used to make life more comfortable.


Cathy D. Wahl

The history of daily life is fascinating, and often forgotten. One of the reasons I started MUM was to preserve at least some of this history.

The black male photographer for a newspaper that visited this museum told me that he grew up in the poorest section of Chicago in the 1950s. As a boy, he saw menstrual rags on clotheslines everywhere. One "sport" he and his little friends had was to guess which women were menstruating. They thought they could tell by a bulge, underneath clothing, between a woman's legs, which would indicate a rag.

And I never knew there was such a thing as menstruation before I was twelve!

I normally do not use names of e-mailers, and never without their permission, but Ms. Wahl suggested I use hers.

Sweet Secrets Gets Sweeter!

Last week in the News I mentioned Sweet Secrets, a book just published with stories of menstruation and material for girls and adolescents.

Here's a review about it Mary Beaty just wrote for the December Quill & Quire:

Anne Frank referred to the onset of her first period as a "sweet secret," and anticipated its arrival with "wonder, joy, confusion and fear." This new anthology combines adult reminiscences and candid adolescent reactions to menarche and menstruation with factual explanations and multicultural and anthropological data. It covers the emotional aspects of menstruation in addition to the usual sex-and-hygiene-agenda of health class . . . . This book builds on ground broken by other pioneers . . . . This work's value lies in its friendly combination of first-person anecdotes, interviews, and stories . . . . The factual information in the first section is straightforward, and additional sidebars scattered among the stories cover sex, hygiene, cramps, herbal remedies, and alternatives to commercial sanitary products . . . . The book will be a useful and welcome addition to the growing body of material on puberty and sexuality for adolescent girls and a nice bridge for discussion with adults. The impressive list of contributors includes doctors, social workers, teen advocates, and feminist journalists, and of course the teens who shared their own experiences . . . .

Read more about it and the authors! It's available at women's bookstores, other independent bookstores, and most Chapters bookstores for approximately $10.99. It is also available directly from Second Story Press or from Amazon Books Online

Impurity, Infelicity, and Difference of Opinion

Last week you may have read the letter in this section objecting to some thoughts in an e-mail from Petra Habiger, a German woman interested in advising others about menstruation. Here's the salient paragraph:

By the way, I think that lady who said a woman should answer questions [in the letter "A subconscious feeling of being impure" on an earlier news page] doesn't get it about your museum. It's not a doctor's office. There's plenty of places on the Web for questions if they're personal, and if they're not, why not ask you?

Petra replied,

I am not sure that I really can understand that woman who said,

". . . doesn't get it about your museum. It's not a doctor's office."

Menstruation in my opinion does not have so much to do with sickness. You won't consult a doctor for questions about menstruation hygiene.

I think both are saying the same thing about menstruation, but they disagree about MY role; I'm a male and not a doctor of any kind.

Petra also asked me to change the headline of my printing of her e-mail to Questions of Menstruation and Menstrual Hygiene, which I have done. She wrote,

I guess "A subconscious feeling of being impure" seems to me a bit infelicitous as a headline. I can imagine that women or girls who look for answers about menstruation and menstrual hygiene won't be concerned by a topic about impurity.

Any comments about this?

Kimberly-Clark Cutting Back

An e-mail friend in Canada - he was the first to alert me about The Body Project, a book you must read - e-mailed me today that Kimberly-Clark, maker of Kotex and Kleenex, two icons of America, is firing about 5,000 workers and cutting prices because of competition. K-C might close or shrink as many as 18 manufacturing plants worldwide.

I've talked nonstop about Tambrands recently, which Procter & Gamble just bought. It is the end of an icon of American culture, the company that made the first tampon with an applicator, a truly important invention. P & G will continue the brand name.

Kotex is the other icon in American menstrual culture, the first widely successful disposable sanitary napkin in America; it first appeared in American magazine advertising in 1921. One of the largest displays in this museum concerns itself with the early advertising campaign for Kotex in the 1920s, based on the collection of papers at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. See what this site has to offer, too (first ad, later ads and Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday, the latter by permission of Australia's largest museum).

What is interesting is that P & G makes Always, the best-selling pad in America, the main competitor of Kotex. And P & G already has one icon.


© 1998 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute any of the work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to