Saturday, May 8, 2010

Embroider Your Way to Health

This is a timely article for Mother's Day.  I hadn't thought of that when I contemplated writing it, but it works!

Lydia Pinkham was a marketing genius.  She marketed directly to women at a time when most doctors were men and women were reluctant to discuss "feminine problems" with them.  You cannot pick up a magazine from the late 1800's or early 1900's without seeing her ads for her Vegetable Compound

This little booklet is a curious mix of embroidery stitches and letters from actual users of the compound touting their miraculous recoveries from one ailment or another.  A young girl getting her hands on this would be quite afraid to grow up after reading of all the horrible things her body might do to make her ill.  Reading the letters is quite illuminative of what women had to endure on a daily basis before birth control and gynecologists.  This compound can cure pimples, jaundice, menopause, "falling of the womb", whites, nervous prostration, congestion of the bladder, and, it seems, infertility.  It is still available today, although with modified contents.  The wikipedia article gives a lot more information.

Even though Lydia died in 1883 she has a website.  I'll bet you DIDN'T know there was a Museum of Menstruation.  Wonder if they're only open one week a month?  Back in October of 1978 I picked up a copy of MS magazine at Meijer's and stood there leafing through it.  On the back page was an essay written by Gloria Steinem that I thought was the best thing I had ever read.  I didn't buy the magazine but did remember the article.  The magazine has gone, but the article lives here.  To go along with that, here is a funny British ad.

Without further ado, here is the book.  The embroidery stitches are some common ones and ones not so common and there are many I want to try now.  Enjoy!

And finally, Ranger in a chair.

Happy Mother's Day!


  1. This is a great little booklet. It speaks on so many different levels of what it was like being a women at the turn of the century. This booklet does not make it seem all that pleasant. :)

    Love Ranger.

  2. Thanks for teaching me about Lydia Pinkham. I went out and learned more about her. I'm enjoying the rest of your blog as well!


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