Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-century America

Front Cover
Cornell University Press, 1997 - History - 373 pages
2 Reviews
In pocket-sized, coded diaries, an upper-middle-class American woman named Mary Poor recorded with small "x's" the occasions of sexual intercourse with her husband Henry over a twenty-eight-year period. Janet Farrell Brodie introduces this engaging pair early in a book that is certain to be the definitive study of family limitation in nineteenth-century America. She makes adroit use of Mary's diaries and letters to lift a curtain on the intimate life of a Victorian couple attempting to control the size of their family. Were the Poors typical? Who used reproductive control in the years between 1830 and 1880? What methods did they use and how did they learn about them? By examining a wide array of sources, Brodie has determined hew Americans were able gradually to get birth control information and products that allowed them to choose among newer, safer, and more effective contraceptive and abortion methods. Brodie's findings in druggists' catalogs, patent records, advertisements, "vice society" documents, business manuscripts, and gynecological advice literature explain how information spread and often taboo matters were made commercial. She retraces the links among obscure individuals, from itinerant lecturers, to book publishers, to contraceptive goods manufacturers and explains the important contributions of two nascent networks - medical practitioners known as Thomsonians and water-curists, and iconoclastic freethinkers. Brodie takes her narrative to the backlash at the end of the century, when American ambivalence toward abortion and contraception led to federal and state legislative restrictions, the rise of special "purity legions", the influence of powerful reformers such asAnthony Comstock, and the vehement opposition of medical professionals. "Reproductive control became illegal not only because of the fanaticism of a few zealots", writes Brodie, "but because of its troubling implications for a broad spectrum of women and men, many of whom wanted and practiced reproductive control in the privacy of their bedrooms but failed to support it publicly when it was under attack". In this balanced and timely book Brodie shows a keen sensitivity to the complex factors behind today's politically, emotionally, and intellectually charged battles over reproductive rights.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

Contraception and abortion in nineteenth-century America

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

"Sexual intercourse began," wrote Philip Larkin, "in nineteen sixty-three.'' Larkin's hyperbole is here thoroughly confounded. Brodie (history, Claremont Graduate Sch.) examines the changes in ... Read full review

Review: Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America: A Critical Edition of the "Symphonia Armonie Celestium Revelationum" (Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial Revelations)

User Review  - Deede - Goodreads

Interesting history. The "war on women" in the late 1800's seems similar to what has been going on lately. Read full review

Contents

x for Sexual
9
Strategies in Colonial America
38
The New Reproductive Control
57
The Private Debate Goes Public
87
Who Were They and
136
The Boom in SelfHelp Literature after 1850
180
The Most Fashionable Contraceptive Devices
204
The Endof
253
Epilogue
289
Notes
295
Selected Bibliography of Literature of Reproductive Control
357
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 358 - The Preventive Obstacle, or Conjugal Onanism. The Dangers and Inconveniences to the Individual, to the Family, and to Society, of Frauds in the Accomplishment of thf Generative Functions.

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1997)

Janet Farrell Brodie is Department Chair of History at Claremont Graduate University and author of "Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America "(1994). Marc Redfield is Department Chair and Professor of English at Claremont Graduate University. He is the author of "The Politics of Aesthetics: Nationalism, Gender, Romanticism "(2002) and "Phantom Formations: Aesthetic Ideology and the Bildungsroman "(1996).

Bibliographic information