13 Objects That Begin to Tell The Story of Women's History in America

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tags: gender, Museum, womens history

Ortho-Novum Pill Pack • 1963

The sexual revolution didn’t start the moment the pill (pictured in above image) was approved for contraception, in 1960. The (usually male) doctors who prescribed it in those first years often had a policy of restricting its use to women who were married, and who already had children. No free-love proponents or feminist firebrands allowed.

Physicians at university health clinics had tough decisions to make in those early days, according to a 1965 New York Times Magazine article: Should they prescribe the pill to single girls? Perhaps, if the patient brought a note from her pastor certifying that she was about to be married. But for students with no matrimonial plans? “If we did,” one clinic staffer told the author of the Times article, Cornell professor Andrew Hacker, “word would get around the dorms like wildfire and we’d be writing out prescriptions several times a day.”

Read entire article at Smithsonian.com