CONTRIBUTE to Humor,
Words and expressions about
menstruation and Would you
stop menstruating if you could?
The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health
pad (washable) and belt, 1850s (drawings from photos
of the pad)
|When this museum was
place in my house, a visitor told me that a
museum in Richmond, Virginia, not far from the
Washington, D.C., area where I live, had a menstrual
pad from before the Civil War.
It wasn't till a graduate student at King's College London recently asked if I had any early menstrual pads that I remembered the Richmond pad. I told the student and contacted the owner.
Unable to travel to the Valentine Richmond History Center, I requested information and photos, from which I made the drawings below.
The pad resembles in form and construction pads from Norway from the 19th century with one big difference: this one looks narrower. I wonder if the hot summer weather in Richmond kept the pad as small as possible to keep the woman cool - there was no air conditioning in the 1850s! But a Norwegian wearer would like to keep her nether regions warm.
As I've carried on at length elsewhere, it seems possible - probable? - that some American women bled into their clothing, just as certain European writers maintain that about European women.
More washable pads: Modern washable pads from Almora, Uttar Pradesh state, India and Rajasthan state, India - Nineteenth-century Norwegian washable pads - Italian washable pad, probably from the 1890s - instructions for making Japanese pads, early 20th century? - German, about 1900 - 1902 & 1908, U.S.A. - German washable pads and belt, with case (about 1935-40).
Modern: Snap-on style washable pad - Washable pad with belt - menstrual sponges - a modern, beautiful bowl to soak used menstrual pads in -
Modern German washable pad, Vivas.
|Below: A research assistant at the
Valentine said the pads are cotton
and the dimensions are 25" (63.5 cm) long x 2.5" (6.35 cm) wide, the length comparable
to early Kotex.
The pad and belt are a light brown and maybe darkened with age.
The splotches below are dark brown. The absorbing surface (center) looks like
those of Norwegian washable pads from the same century.
Harry Finley made the drawings from photos bought from the Valentine Richmond History Center.
belt at the Valentine, 1850s. Light brown, no