Synopses & Reviews
A down-and-out sausage-casing worker by day who turned surplus animal intestines into a million-dollar condom enterprise at night; inventors who fashioned cervical caps out of watch springs; and a mother of six who kissed photographs of the inventor of the Pill these are just a few of the fascinating individuals who make up the history of contraceptives in America. Scholars of birth control typically frame this history as one of physicians, lawyers, and political activists. But in Devices and Desires
, Andrea Tone breaks new ground by showing what it was really like to produce, buy, and use contraceptives during a century of profound social and technological change.
Tone begins with the passage of the 1873 Comstock Act, which criminalized the birth control business, and ends with the inventions of today (including Depo-Provera and Norplant). Along the way she assesses the social and economical effects of chemical prophylaxes kits for World War I soldiers, condoms, the Lysol antiseptic douche, and the 1973 Dalkon Shield disaster (among others). In lively and engaging prose, her book illuminates the industry's trails from an illicit trade located in basement workshops and pornography outlets to one of the most successful legitimate businesses in American history.
"In this fascinating and engaging book Andrea Tone brings to ether social and business history with the Material culture of contraception. Peppering her narrative with revealing personal stories, Tone provides a vibrant history that is as timely as today's headlines. I highly recommend it!" Judith W. Leavitt, author of Typhoid Mary
"Andrea Tone's fascinating book, Devices and Desires, takes the wrap off birth control's long journey from illegality in the nineteenth century to legality in the twentieth. Women today are still suffering the aftereffects, not only from their less than perfect methods of birth control, but also from America's failure to develop better methods for all women at ill times during their reproductive lives. How couples 'made do' with the often faulty methods available makes one marvel at our human ingenuity. Devices and Desires is must reading for anyone interested in women's rights and health." Alexander Sanger, chair, International Planned Parenthood Council
"[A] lively history of the demand for contraceptives in the U.S and the remarkable variety of people who set out to meet that demand....For much of the period Tone discusses, contraception was illegal or disreputable, yet millions of Americans needed these products and found ways to obtain them. That perhaps is the most enduring lesson of Tone's enlightening study." Mary Carroll, Booklist
From thriving black market to big business, the commercialization of birth control in the United States
In Devices and Desires, Andrea Tone breaks new ground by showing what it was really like to buy, produce, and use contraceptives during a century of profound social and technological change. A down-and-out sausage-casing worker by day who turned surplus animal intestines into a million-dollar condom enterprise at night; inventors who fashioned cervical caps out of watch springs; and a mother of six who kissed photographs of the inventor of the Pill -- these are just a few of the individuals who make up this riveting story.
About the Author
Andrea Tone, an associate professor of history at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is the author of The Business of Benevolence and the editor of Controlling Reproduction: An American History.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Pt. 1 Comstockery
1 1873 3
2 The Limits of the Law 25
3 Contraceptive Entrepreneurs 47
4 Black-Market Birth Control 67
Pt. 2 From Smut to Science
5 Salute to Prophylaxis 91
6 A Medical Fit 117
7 Feminine Hygiene 151
8 Condom Kings 183
Pt. 3 The Medicalization of Contraceptives
9 Developing the Pill 203
10 The Pill in Practice 233
11 Searching for Something Better 261
Epilogue: The Contraceptive Conundrum 285