Medical practitioners, birth control clinics and contraceptive efficacy
Claire L. Jones

This chapter highlights the tensions surrounding the increasing competitive nature of birth control clinic supply, particularly after 1935 with the National Birth Control Association’s introduction of standardised contraceptive testing with which the Association sought to define ‘reliable’ contraceptives. Such clinical tests and laboratory tests did not medicalise and standardise contraceptives until after the Second World War, but their introduction nonetheless encouraged competition among a large number of firms and disrupted Lambert’s monopoly of clinic supply. Yet, before the 1950s, agreed contraceptive standards were still in flux and the Association considered the products of certain firms reliable even when they failed the tests. Much of this related to the acceptance of lower standards during the Second World War, but it also impinged on longstanding clinical experience and the fact that clinicians continued to rely on firms who had earned their trust. Price and quality only began to override firm goodwill and brand loyalty in the 1950s.

in The business of birth control
Contraception and commerce in Britain before the sexual revolution
Author: Claire L. Jones

The Business of Birth Control uncovers the significance of contraceptives as commodities in Britain before the Pill. Drawing on neglected promotional and commercial material, the book demonstrates how hundreds of companies transformed condoms and rubber and chemical pessaries into branded consumer goods that became widely available via birth control clinics, chemists’ shops and vending machines, and were discreetly advertised in various forms of print. With its focus on the interwar period, the book demonstrates how contraceptive commodification shaped sexual and birth control knowledge and practice at a time when older, more restrictive moral values surrounding sexuality uncomfortably co-existed with a modern vision of the future premised on stability wrought by science, medicine and technology. Commodification was a contested process that came into conflict with attempts by the State, doctors and the birth control movement to medicalise birth control, and by social purity groups that sought to censor the trade in order to uphold their prescribed standards of sexual morality and maintain sexual ignorance among much of the population. Of wide interest to modern historians, the book not only serves as an important reminder that businesses were integral to shaping medical, economic, social and cultural attitudes towards sex and birth control but also sheds greater light on the ambiguities, tensions and struggles of interwar Britain more broadly. Without such interwar struggles, the contraceptive Pill may not have received its revolutionary status.

Contraceptive manufacturing
Claire L. Jones

Focusing on rubber production, as the first stage of the commercial process, Chapter 1 demonstrates the tensions between old and new manufacturing methods among British manufacturers, the medical profession, social conservatives and consumers. Most contraceptive appliances made from the late nineteenth century to the 1960s were made from rubber, but it was the introduction of latex in the early 1930s and contraceptive testing by the National Birth Control Association in 1935 that not only resulted in increased output and factory employment but also drew increasing public attention to the trade’s reputation. Social conservatives protested against the increasing feminisation of the latex contraceptive workforce that made contraceptives visible to adolescent girls for the first time, while the Association sought to ensure that the trade conformed to its medical standards. Yet, what is clear is that such changes were not wholesale during this period. Not all firms adopted latex production and while it was in a firm’s interest to supply the Association, firms largely ignored protests about workforce feminisation. This chapter demonstrates that the introduction of latex in the interwar period did not result in a technological revolution as some historians have suggested, but that old sat uncomfortably alongside new.

in The business of birth control
Abstract only
Claire L. Jones

The epilogue outlines the interwar legacies of the contraceptive industry and reveals how its structures provided the foundations for the contraceptive Pill and the mass-contraceptive industry of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Companies and brands in this trade that we now consider to be largely reliable, authoritative and trustworthy, such as Durex, played no small part in establishing their own reputations during the period under study, although as the epilogue will demonstrate, many of the commercial practices of today’s contraceptive firms are no less questionable than those of the interwar period.

in The business of birth control
Abstract only
Contraceptive commercialisation before the Pill
Claire L. Jones

The introduction orientates the reader to the topic of the book. It highlights how the concomitant increasing adoption of birth control as a practice and commercialisation of contraceptives as commodities resulted in a mid-twentieth-century moral panic, the outcome of which was the Contraceptives (Regulation) Bills of 1934 and 1938. The Bills aimed to curb excess commercialisation, but the lack of consensus on what constituted excess and how curbing it could be achieved meant that the Bills were abandoned. Focusing on the tensions between the growing acceptance, reliability, visibility and respectability of birth control and increasing contraceptive commercialisation, much of which morality campaigners saw as ‘conscienceless’, not only demonstrates the hitherto neglected importance of business in shaping sexual knowledge and practice but also sheds greater light on the ambiguities and struggles of an interwar Britain attempting to break away from its Edwardian and Victorian past through its embrace of modernity, science, technology and medicine.

in The business of birth control
Contraceptive retailing in the urban landscape
Claire L. Jones

The focus of Chapter 5 shifts to urban retail distribution, a commercial process largely neglected in current historical scholarship on birth control, but one in which the tensions and ambiguities of the interwar years and birth control in this period were the most obvious. The chapter examines how Lord Bertrand Dawson, birth control authorities, social conservatives and consumers responded to the growing visible and unmediated promotion and sale of contraceptives from chemists’ shops and surgical stores. Retail outlets became increasingly important to contraceptive distribution as they adopted ‘scientific salesmanship’ and brightly coloured and branded window displays, as did mechanised contraceptive slot machines placed outside the shops of chemists and barbers and at new sites of leisure. The chapter then outlines how the failure to find consensus on how to accept the rights of married adults to access birth control appliances via retailers and slot machines while preventing access to adolescent consumers meant that legislation was largely abandoned by 1950. Ultimately, free trade and, with it, overt commercialisation triumphed and contraceptives were freely available from, if not freely advertised by, chemists’ shops as the contraceptive Pill was introduced.

in The business of birth control
Advertising and the circulation of birth control knowledge
Claire L. Jones

Chapter 3 uncovers how firms attempted to demonstrate their authority in birth control through the promotion of their brands in a range of print. Increasingly prominent and explicit advertising featured in a variety of respectable and non-respectable newspapers and magazines, in mail-order catalogues, and formed part of a plethora of medical and non-medical books on sex and birth control throughout the interwar period. It was this increasing visibility in print that resulted in a backlash against this new and modern public discourse on sexual topics. Of particular concern to medical authorities, birth control advocates and social conservatives were firms’ own advertising publications that were often shaped into medical tracts, some of which were delivered unsolicited to the homes of consumers. But such tracts confused unknowing consumers who were unable to discern what they considered legitimate medical contraceptive knowledge and commercial knowledge. Such was the blurring of medical, sexual and commercial publications that even authorities like Marie Stopes could not distinguish between them.

in The business of birth control
Abstract only
Packaging, brands and trademarks
Claire L. Jones

Chapter 2 turns to the next battleground in the commodification process in this transitional period: packaging, branding and trademarking. While it was only from the late 1930s at the earliest that the LRC’s famous brand ‘Durex’ became synonymous with the condom, this chapter draws attention to the importance of packaging, branding and trademarks before ‘Durex’. It draws on two prominent examples of branded contraceptives – W. J. Rendell’s ‘Wife’s Friend’ Soluble Quinine Pessary, registered in 1894, and Lambert’s ‘Pro-Race’ rubber cervical cap, registered in 1922 – and outlines the numerous infringement battles over imitation of these brands in the interwar period. Tensions between manufacturers and surgical stores not only indicated the perceived commercial value of brands and trademarks, but were indicative of firms’ attempts to establish themselves as the legitimate authorities on birth control in a more open market for such goods. Branding and trademarks, both a mixture of traditional and modern designs, were a way to convince consumers of the quality and reliability of products, and evidence from the Rendell company archive suggests a degree of success. Rendell’s customers, in particular, viewed these contraceptives as reliable through the identification of the firm’s branding and trademarks.

in The business of birth control
Open Access (free)
Bonnie Clementsson

In this chapter the reader learns about the early-modern Swedish judicial system and the ecclesiastical structure. The judicial body, which was fairly uniform, consisted of three secular levels. Each level had its counterpart in the ecclesiastical structure. Readers are also introduced to incest prohibitions in a historical context with a focus on Christian rules and notions. The differences between Catholic and Protestant ideas in respect of incest prohibitions are clarified. The intense debate that was going on between theologians on a European level before, during, and after the Reformation is discussed and the outcome presented. Finally, the position of Johan Stiernhöök, a high-ranking Swedish jurist in the late 1600s, is demonstrated in order to explain the judicial discourse in Sweden at the point in time where the investigation begins.

in Incest in Sweden, 1680–1940
Wigan Casino
Stephen Catterall and Keith Gildart

Chapter 3 explores the origins and development of Wigan Casino. It situates the club in the longer history of the town, which had been built on coal mining and a concomitant working-class culture that remained prominent in the 1970s. There is a detailed discussion of the music, and the individuals who attended the club’s famous ‘all-nighters’. It draws on a range of primary sources to reveal both the ‘localism’ and ‘nationalism’ of Wigan Casino and how it was able to broaden its appeal to construct a particular identity in becoming an international brand. The Casino is read as a symbol of the changing nature of particular British towns and cities in a period of rising unemployment and deindustrialisation. Wigan Casino became the iconic club for later interpretations and readings of northern soul.

in Keeping the faith