Family Planning Pills

Description (Brief):

The popularity of “the Pill” created a new market for pharmaceutical companies. For the first time, healthy women would be taking medication for an extended period of time. Pill manufacturers developed unique packaging in order to distinguish their product from those of their competitors and build brand loyalty. Packaging design often incorporated a “memory aid” to assist women in tracking their daily pill regimen, as well as styled cases to allow pills to be discreetly carried in bags and purses. The National Museum of American History’s Division of Medicine and Science’s collection of oral contraceptives illustrates some of the changes that the packaging and marketing of the Pill underwent from its inception in 1960 to the present.

Description (Brief)

Schering AG of Berlin, Germany, manufactured these oral contraceptives during the late 20th century. The logo of the “blue lady” taking her pill adorned all U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) oral contraceptive packages that were distributed worldwide to family planning programs. Compared to other oral contraceptives of the time, these USAID pills are packaged very simply, lacking any kind of discreet container or memory aid. The "blue lady" packaging was introduced in the late 1960s in order to standardize packaging, provide three months supply in one package, and to provide adequate protection for the pills in tropical conditions. This packet contains three cycles of 28 pills, with 21 white hormonal tablets and 7 tablets of iron supplements.

Date Made: ca 1980

Maker: Schering A. G.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: Germany: Berlin, Berlin

Subject: Birth Control/ContraceptionWomen's Health


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Medicine, Health & Medicine, Birth Control


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Syntex Corporation, Syntex Corporate Archives

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1990.3201.05Catalog Number: 1990.3201.05Nonaccession Number: 1990.3201

Object Name: contraceptive, oral

Physical Description: paper (package material)dl-norgestrol, 0.5 mg (drug active ingredients)ethinyl estradiol, 0.05 mg. (drug active ingredients)ferrous fumerate, 75 mg. (drug active ingredients)Measurements: overall: 14.5 cm x 11.5 cm x 5 cm; 5 11/16 in x 4 1/2 in x 1 15/16 inoverall: 4 1/4 in x 5 5/8 in x 3/8 in; 10.795 cm x 14.2875 cm x .9525 cm


Record Id: nmah_333810

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.