Promotional Pamphlet, Chichester's English Pennyroyal Pills, Philadelphia, ca. c.1870-1900, Bella Landauer Collection of Business and Advertising Ephemera, N-YHS Library

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Unregulated “patent medicines” were big business before the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 forced manufacturers to list ingredients. Limited birth control and illegal abortion drove women to buy pills and powders that promised to “restore and regulate menstrual function.” Meanwhile syrups secretly loaded with alcohol and morphine were sold to mothers, who were persuaded that happy babies were quiet. Female Remedies is a small installation that shows how these products were shrewdly marketed to women desperate to conform to social rules.