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'Racial' Synthetic sponge, London, England,1940-1960

Sponges were widely used as contraception in the early 1900s. They were one of a range of contraceptives promoted by the Society for Constructive Birth Control. The society was founded by Dr Marie Stopes (1880-1958). This brand of ‘Racial’ sponge is seen here with its original carton. It was supplied by the Mother’s Clinic, which Stopes founded in 1921. Sponges were often used in conjunction with liquids thought to have spermicidal properties. These included quinine and olive oil. The trademark ‘Racial’ relates to Stopes’ belief in eugenics. This widely held theory in the early 1900s argued selective breeding could remove ‘undesirables’ from society.

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Glossary: contraception

The use of methods and techniques to prevent pregnancy from sex.

Glossary: contraceptive sponge

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