Possibly the first American disposable pad: Lister's Towels
Early Modess ads: newspaper, 1928, 1931,"Modess . . . . because" ads, the French Modess, and the German "Freedom" (Kimberly-Clark) for teens.
Early Midol ads for headache, hiccups, and PMS.
See a prototype of the first Kotex ad.
See more Kotex items: Ad 1928 (Sears and Roebuck catalog) - Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday (booklet for girls, 1928, Australian edition; there are many links here to Kotex items) - 1920s booklet in Spanish showing disposal method - box from about 1969 - Preparing for Womanhood (1920s, booklet for girls) - "Are you in the know?" ads (Kotex) (1949)(1953)(1964)(booklet, 1956) - See more ads on the Ads for Teenagers main page
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)
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 (and awesome ancient art of menstruation) |
Artists (non-menstrual) |
Asbestos |
Belts |
Bidets |
Birth control and religion |
Birth control drugs, old |
Birth control douche & sponges |
Founder bio |
Bly, Nellie |
MUM board |
Books: menstruation & menopause (& reviews) |
Cats |
Company booklets for girls (mostly) directory |
Contraception and religion |
Contraceptive drugs, old |
Contraceptive douche & sponges |
Costumes |
Menstrual cups |
Cup usage |
Dispensers |
Douches, pain, sprays |
Essay directory |
Extraction |
Facts-of-life booklets for girls |
Famous women in menstrual hygiene ads |
Feminine napkin, towel, pad directory |
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, towel, napkin 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 |
Sanitary napkin, towel, pad directory |
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) |
Towel, pad, sanitary napkin directory |
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 Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health

Menstrual pads made of sphagnum moss and gauze
Box and newspaper ads
Portland, Oregon, U.S.A., 1919

Moss? In sanitary napkins??

Women have used many things to absorb menstrual blood - cotton mostly, but anything that absorbs, and sometimes nothing at all. Why not moss?

But Sphagnum Moss Products Co., which made this pad, picked the wrong time to debut, 1919.

Another product coming out of the First World War at just this time would soon rule menstrual products in America: Kotex.

I'm not surprised that nurses in that war were involved in both products. (See a nurse from Germany in an ad for that country's most famous menstrual pad - and she's holding a box with the picture of a lady of the night on it - MORE about this woman.) Companies liked to link menstrual products with medicine by way of a cross.

The birth story of Kotex the company tells is that American nurses used bandages supplied by the Kimberly-Clark Company as menstrual pads. After the war, in 1919, K-C decided to use the material in the leftover bandages as menstrual pads - Kotex. The material was Cellucotton, processed wood pulp.

I suspect SFAG-NA-KINS died on this post-war field of battle.

The story of this article: Dr Sara Read, who teaches at Loughborough University, U.K., kindly mailed me the scan of the box shown below; I straightened some distortion created by the angle of the camera. Someone had e-mailed her the scan.

While looking for more information I found an amazingly similar box on the Web site of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, dents and shadows and distortions included. It looks to me as if the scan below is the same as the SMCR photo; if true, it's probable Dr. David Linton took the photo - he also writes a good story about his tour of the menstrual products collection in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, which I've also visited with the generous Dr. Katherine Ott as docent. At least the Smithsonian box must be the same. I'm indebted to Dr. Linton's report!

Below: The box, which likely rests in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History
(see my story above). Sphagnum Moss Products Co. probably replaced the A. J. Churchill Co, Inc.
as maker  - or so I gather from the ads and the linked Patent Office registration, all below.

Just as some nudist and other camps often had odd, hyphenated names, so did
menstrual products like San-Nap-Pak pads (and tampons), Pad-n-all combination pad and belt,
and Pen-Co-Nap pads.

Below: Introducing ...! Ad from the newspaper The Sunday Oregonian, 9 March 1919 on the society page.
It's surrounded by ads for hats, clothing, wall paper, a dancing school, and shoes. Society news - that is,
news of the social events of the upper crust of Portland - is scattered among photos of brides. Early Kotex also advertised
to the monied. Poorer women probably used and washed cloth or rags.

This is the only ad for such a personal item on this page.

Advertising on a page seemingly meant for the well-to-do might have meant this menstrual pad was expensive.
After all, the third ad, below, says it was hand-made (gauze wrapped around the moss). But it also says it's no more expensive than previous ones.
Kotex, which was also just coming out of the war, probably soon crushed this competition, maybe
because it was machine made and cheaper
Below: From The Sunday Oregonian, 16 March 1919.
The A.J. Churchill Co, Inc, pops up in the July, 1919 Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent Office (for July 1) as having applied for registration of "sphagnum moss sanitary napkins," #116, 988, granted October 21, 1919.
Below: From The Sunday Oregonian, 30 March 1919.

I thought that womanfolk took a lot of pleasure in shopping. Maybe times have changed.

More ads for early American menstrual pads.
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