CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:
MUM address & What does MUM mean? |
Email the museum |
Privacy on this site |
Who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! |
Art of menstruation (and awesome ancient art of menstruation) |
Artists (non-menstrual) |
Asbestos |
Belts |
Bidets |
Birth control and religion |
Birth control drugs, old |
Birth control douche & sponges |
Founder bio |
Bly, Nellie |
MUM board |
Books: menstruation & menopause (& reviews) |
Cats |
Company booklets for girls (mostly) directory |
Contraception and religion |
Contraceptive drugs, old |
Contraceptive douche & sponges |
Costumes |
Menstrual cups |
Cup usage |
Dispensers |
Douches, pain, sprays |
Essay directory |
Examination, gynecological (pelvic) (short history) |
Extraction |
Facts-of-life booklets for girls |
Famous women in menstrual hygiene ads |
Feminine napkin, towel, pad directory |
Founder/director biography |
Gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux |
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Menarche booklets for girls and parents |
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Norwegian menstruation exhibit |
Odor |
Olor |
Pad, towel, napkin directory |
Patent medicine |
Poetry directory |
Products, some current |
Puberty booklets for girls and parents|
Religion |
Religión y menstruación |
Your remedies for menstrual discomfort |
Menstrual products safety |
Sanitary napkin, towel, pad directory |
Seguridad de productos para la menstruación |
Science |
Shame |
Slapping, menstrual |
Sponges |
Synchrony |
Tampon directory |
Early tampons |
Teen ads directory |
Tour of the former museum (video) |
Towel, pad, sanitary napkin directory |
Underpants & panties directory |
Videos, films directory |
Words and expressions about menstruation |
Would you stop menstruating if you could? |
What did women do about menstruation in the past? |
Washable pads |
Read 10 years (1996-2006) of articles and Letters to Your MUM on this site.

The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health

Menstrual pad (washable) and belt, 1850s (drawings from photos of the pad)
Valentine Richmond History Center
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A. 

When this museum was a physical 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.
Below: A belt at the Valentine, 1850s. Light brown, no dimensions obtained.

MORE pads, tampons

© 2011 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute work on this Web site in any manner or
medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to hfinley@mum.org