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96/189/2 Sanitary napkin and sanitary belts (2), cotton, hand made by Ellen Stephenson, Australia, c. 1940-1960. Click to enlarge.

Sanitary napkin and sanitary belts

Made
This hand-sewn sanitary napkin is from the personal belongings of Sydney woman, Mrs Ellen Stephenson, who was born in 1911. It probably dates from somewhere between 1940 and 1960 and is made from old towelling material, probably a baby's nappy, and has loops at either end to attach it to a belt made from pyjama cord.

Mrs Stephenson began menstruating when she was around 11 years old and learnt how to make napkins from her mother. In turn she taught her own daughters, insisting that they use …

Summary

Object No.

96/189/2

Object Statement

Sanitary napkin and sanitary belts (2), cotton, hand made by Ellen Stephenson, Australia, c. 1940-1960

Physical Description

Sanitary napkin and sanitary belts, cotton, hand made by Mrs Ellen Stephenson, Australia, [1940-1960].

(-1)Sanitary napkin made of layers of white towelling material (probably old baby nappy) with white cotton tape tabs sewn on it.
(-2)Belt, attached to napkin, made of white cotton pyjama cord tape.
(-3)Spare belt, made of white cotton pyjama cord tape.

Dimensions

Width

90 mm

Depth

25 mm

Production

Notes

Made by the donor Mrs Ellen Stephenson for her own use.

Mrs Stephenson would have used sanitary napkins and belts such as these from around 1922 to 1960. These examples probably date from 1940-1960.

History

Notes

This hand made sanitary napkin is from the personal belongings of Mrs Ellen Stephenson who was born in 1911 and is now 83 years old. It is made from old towelling material, probably a baby's nappy, and is meant to be re-usable, having to be washed each time it was used. Mrs Stephenson began menstruating when she was around 11 years old. She learnt how to make pads from her own mother, and in turn taught her daughters, including Anne (now Mrs Anne Smith). Anne was born in 1945 and began menstruating when she was around 13 years old. Her mother insisted that she use the home-made pads, even though by that time (around 1958) commercially manufactured pads were freely available and probably used by most Australian women. "Towelling pads were what my mother used so that is what we had to use". However, unlike her mother, Anne had a commercially manufactured sanitary belt to which she attached the pad by safety pins. Anne had to wash her own pads. The family lived in Sydney at Balgowlah.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs Ellen Anastasia Stephenson and Mrs Anne Patricia Smith

Acquisition Date

13 May 1996

Cite this Object

Harvard

Sanitary napkin and sanitary belts 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 31 January 2023, <https://ma.as/150203>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/150203 |title=Sanitary napkin and sanitary belts |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=31 January 2023 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}