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Really Cool Contraception Museum in Cleveland Medical Library

September 17, 2010

At the Allen Memorial Medical Library, at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, is the Dittrick Medical History Center, a museum with collections from the history of medicine. Inside the museum is the Percy Skuy Collection, a collection of more than 1,000 items representing the history of contraception.

From the site:

The exhibit reveals a longstanding ignorance of essential facts of human conception. For example, a woman’s ovulation time was not discovered until the 1930s by two doctors, Kyusaku Ogino in Japan and Hermann Knaus in Austria. Before and after this finding, desperate women went to great length to prevent pregnancies. The exhibit explores less well known (and dangerous) methods such as douching with Lysol or eating poisonous herbs like pennyroyal, as well as conventional means such as the IUD or the birth control pill.

The exhibition also covers some ancient methods of birth control, some unique and folkloric methods, and presents information about the influence of religion on contraception.

I learned about the collection from another librarian, who posted this video about it to Facebook. The local paper there, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, visited the museum and wrote about it here.

The five-minute video tour from the Plain-Dealer is well worth a watch for more detail. Beaver testicle tea, y’all.

The line in the video that was true and is true and will be true, and sums up the whole collection: “Perhaps the most striking thing about the collection is the extremes that humans will go to prevent pregnancies.”

Next Oberlin reunion, I’m totally going and visiting this collection. Somebody remind me 10 years from now and I’ll organize a field trip. 😉

[Some of you will also be interested in the 18th century obstetric manikin recently added to the museum]

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2010 11:26 pm

    Wow – thanks for posting this.I had no idea this museum existed.

  2. September 18, 2010 12:09 pm

    In the course of my “studies” on HIV/AIDS, I too discovered the Museum. If you get to Cleveland before that reunion, let me know and so a special Condom Amulet, with your input, could be knit for their collection.

  3. September 23, 2010 6:40 pm

    2nd what Peggy said here. Would love to see this museum in person as well.

  4. October 4, 2010 4:50 pm

    Looks awesome, totally want to go.


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