What does the infrequency of menstruation mean for those of us interested in the material culture and physical experience of menstruation in the past?
For those of us interested in colonial and early Federal America, there will be few, if any, artifacts. This is not only because the period is largely non-industrial, but because there was less need for pads or other absorbent methods. Documentation is scant, and what exists in women's voices is coded. Methods and recourses were transmitted orally more than in writing, and records of personal experiences-- interiorities of bodies or emotions--are scarce.
*Recognizing the difference in climate 242 years later can be helpful when asking the inevitable "aren't you hot in those clothes?" questions. For one thing, no; I'm acclimated to them since I've been in them all day. And for another, the climate was different, with fewer hot and record-breaking days (the Battle of Monmouth excepted).
Kathleen Brown, Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009)
Sharon Ann Burnston. “Babies in the Well: An Underground Insight into Deviant Behavior in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 106, No. 2 (April 1982) 151-186.
Elaine Forman Crane, Ed. The Diary of Elizabeth Drinker: The life Cycle of an Eighteenth-Century Woman. Abridged edition. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994)
Tess Frydman. America’s Bloody History: Menstruation Management in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Master’s Thesis, University of Delaware, 2018.
Florence DeHuff Friel, editor. The diary of Job Whitall, Gloucester County, New Jersey, 1775-1779. Woodbury, N.J. : Gloucester County Historical Society, 1992.
Hannah Glasse The servant’s directory : or house-keeper’s companion: … To which is annexed a diary, or house-keeper’s pocket-book for the whole year. London : Printed for the author ; and sold by W. Johnston ; at Mrs. Wharton’s, at Mrs. Ashburnham’s china-shop, Mr Vaughan’s, and by all the Booksellers in town and country, 1760.
Alexandra Lord. “The Great “Arcana of the Deity”: Menstruation and Menstrual Disorders in Eighteenth-Century British Medical Thought.” Bulletin of the HIstory of Medicine, Vol. 73, No. 1 (Spring 1999) 38-63
Sara Read. “Thy Righteousness is but a menstrual clout”: Sanitary Practice and Prejudice in early Modern England.” Early Modern Women, Vol 3 (Fall 2008) 1-25.
William Wallis Woodward One thousand valuable secrets, in the elegant and useful arts : collected from the practice of the best artists .. by Published 1795 by Philadelphia : Printed for B. Davies …, and T. Stephens … .