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Friday, March 6, 2009

Lydia Pinkham Memorial Clinic - Salem, Mass.

Above is the Lydia E. Pinkham Memorial Clinic of Salem, Mass. It was founded in 1922 by Aroline Chase Pinkham Gove, the daughter of Lydia Pinkham, once a household name in 19th century America.

Lydia Estes Pinkham was a reformer, an inventor, and an entrepreneur who combined all these three qualities into her career of marketing an herbal tonic to relieve menstrual and menopausal discomfort. Her product was enormously popular in an age when relief for painful menstruation usually meant surgery, which in that era nearly half the time resulted in death. No one wonder women of that time preferred a less risky option. Lydia Pinkham’s name and product became iconic, and sometimes the subject of bawdy humor in a more chauvinistic era.

Born to a Quaker family in Lynn, Lydia Estes and her family were strongly anti-slavery, who counted William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass among their friends. Lydia married Isaac Pinkham in 1843. Their children would all be one day involved in the family patent medicine business, which reportedly began when Lydia, as was common in the day, brewed home remedies.

Her particular home remedy for “female complaints” made a hit with her female neighbors, and was launched in production for sale to the public in 1876, now called Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compund, one of the most famous products of the 19th century. The clinic for which she is named still provides health services for young mothers and their children.

Have a look here for more information on Lydia Pinkham’s patent medicine.

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