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Superimposition of the newly emblematic round over a couple walking in the snow invokes the nascent role of pharmaceuticals as protectors of marital cooperation

Searle, facing imminent competition in the UK market, sought corporate synonymy with ‘the Pill’. “Conovid oral contraceptive. The responsible answer to a universal problem". Journal ad. [detail], Practitioner, January 1962. Searle / 'Conovid'. By kind permission of Pfizer. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

Read more about Superimposition of the newly emblematic round over a couple walking in the snow invokes the nascent role of pharmaceuticals as protectors of marital cooperation

Available through select Family Planning Association clinics from summer 1962, 'Anovlar' was heralded as the latest 'no-baby pill' in the press

Company literature, however, proclaimed a pro-baby function, by presenting ‘Anovlar’ as calendrical management tool for precision reproductive forecasting. 1963. Patient’s FAQ booklet. Pharmethicals [Schering] / 'Anovlar'. By kind permission of the Schering Archives, Bayer AG. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

Read more about Available through select Family Planning Association clinics from summer 1962, 'Anovlar' was heralded as the latest 'no-baby pill' in the press

Metronomic and horological imagery was common in early Pill advertising

Here, a pendulum infers the rational march of Searle’s research, underpinning new ‘Ovulen’ as ‘the logical outcome of 11 years leadership in oral contraception’. However, mechanical analogies for contraceptive progress in what Marshall McLuhan called the ‘electric age’ were fast becoming outmoded. 1964. Physician's circular / Searle, 'Ovulen'. By kind permission of Pfizer. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

Read more about Metronomic and horological imagery was common in early Pill advertising

Journal insert from 'Practitioner'

This creative reminder-style advert imitates a skeletal molecular diagram in combination with the female gender symbol as visual shorthand for Searle’s alternative oral progestin, ethynodiol diacetate [‘Ovulen’]. The goal was an oral contraceptive universally “accepted by women of many different socio-economic and ethnic types”. June 1965. Die-cut bookmark [reverse] / Searle, 'Ovulen'. By kind permission of Pfizer. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

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Alliance through contraception

“If the husband prefers to take charge and be responsible for birth control, he will want to use withdrawal or a sheath. If the wife takes the responsibility she has a wide choice. In either case the needs and views of the other partner will have to be considered”. 1966. Physician's circulars / Syntex, 'Norinyl-1'. By kind permission of Roche. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

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A Somerset folksong, 'Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron' [c.1900] provides the hebdomadal basis for this mailing campaign.

With express reference to 21-day regimens, it is suggested that the domestic schedule of the sixties housewife might be matched to routine self-administration of oral contraceptives. 1966. Physician's circular, No.4 in a series of 7 / Parke Davis, 'Norlestrin-21'. By kind permission of Pfizer. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

Read more about A Somerset folksong, 'Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron' [c.1900] provides the hebdomadal basis for this mailing campaign.

"Life is not restricted, but enriched".

This campaign utilises a contemporaneous resurgence in child psychology, marking the young, healthy multipara as facilitator of family well being; once enabled as a strategic contraceptor, pregnancies are viable and desired, and emotional privation is negated all round. 1966. Physician's circular, No.3 in a series of 4 / Syntex, 'Norinyl-1'. By kind permission of Roche. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

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Phase one of this campaign suggested that a housewife's hebdomadal domestic schedule could anchor the routine self-administration of oral contraceptives.

In these alternate instalments, figure and ground are reversed; "Thursday's girl has a full calendar, but she has less need for a calendar since taking her Norlestrin 21-tablet course”. c.1967. Physician's circulars / Parke Davis, 'Norlestrin-21'. By kind permission of Pfizer. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

Read more about Phase one of this campaign suggested that a housewife's hebdomadal domestic schedule could anchor the routine self-administration of oral contraceptives.

Traditionally a manufacturer of spermicidal pessaries, Rendell proffered 'Norolen' (an 'Oral') via pseudo-pedagogic means: the discrete, quick-reference doctor's booklet, explaining different denominations of oral contraceptive.

"Properly kept, this hand-book should be of great assistance in enabling you to prescribe for your patients with minimal consultation". 1967. ‘Oral Control of Conception’ medical handbook / WJ Rendell, 'Norolen'. By kind permission of WJ Rendell Limited. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

Read more about Traditionally a manufacturer of spermicidal pessaries, Rendell proffered 'Norolen' (an 'Oral') via pseudo-pedagogic means: the discrete, quick-reference doctor's booklet, explaining different denominations of oral contraceptive.

The patient's first month: brochure, instructions, with glossy gatefold sleeve [pills not shown].

The patient’s first month: brochure, instructions, with glossy gatefold sleeve [pills not shown]. As advertised in journals, "This starter kit is a stopper. It stops ovulation. And it stops that wasteful drain on the doctor's time-over frequent calls for reassurance about disturbing side effects". 1967. Select collateral from 'Starter Kit' / Eli Lilly & Company, 'Sequens'. With the kind cooperation of Eli Lilly. Courtesy of Julia Larden, and the Wellcome Library, London. Photography by J Borge 2014 CC BY 4.0

Read more about The patient's first month: brochure, instructions, with glossy gatefold sleeve [pills not shown].