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Carton for ‘Racial’ cervical cap, London, England, 1945-1960

Dr Marie Stopes (1880-1958) founded the Society for Constructive Birth Control (CBC). The ‘CBC’ supplied this carton, which once contained a ‘Racial’ cervical cap. A cervical cap is a barrier contraceptive. It is inserted by a woman before sex. It sits over the cervix to act as a barrier to sperm entering the uterus. The trademark ‘Racial’ is related to Stopes’ belief in eugenics. This widely held theory in the early 1900s argued selective breeding could remove ‘undesirables’ from society. Stopes opened the first of her birth control clinics in Holloway, North London in 1921. She is best remembered as a feminist and a birth control pioneer.

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Glossary: contraception

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

Glossary: cervical cap

A barrier form of contraception. It consists of a thimble-shaped device which fits tightly over the entrance of the cervix. It blocks sperm from entering the uterus and thereby prevents fertilisation. Popular since the mid-1800s, their use has dropped dramatically in recent years.