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Katharine Dexter McCormick: The Money Behind the Pill

2015-12-09 | 🔗

Katharine McCormick made her mark in two different areas: She was a big part of the movement for women's suffrage in the U.S. And, she was a huge - and for a while, almost entirely forgotten - part of the development of oral contraceptives.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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you missed in history, has stuck on how well the mine, Tracy bewildered and I'm how we find we are going to talk about Paprica Dexter Mccormick. She was a graduate of mit at a time when the school did not admit many women at all. Also a big part of the room where women suffrage in the United States and she was a huge and for a while, almost entirely forgotten part of the development of oral perceptive so usually when we do biographical episodes, we do a mostly chronological account of a person's life, but various parts of Catherine Dexter, Mccormick's life and her accomplishments overlap each other a lot. So it makes little more sense. This time we're going to spend the first portion of episode, talk
that her personal life or bringing her education. Then we will move on to her work towards getting women the right to vote and the United States, and we will finish with, merely a single handed funding of the development of oral contraceptives. So, in addition to the discussion of contraception, that's going to be part of today's episode. Mccormick's husband had a number of mental health issues and the nature of them might not be suitable for our most young listeners. Catherine Extra Mccormick was born Catherine, more Dexter. On August, twenty seventh of eighteen, seventy five in Dexter Michigan, the name of the town, was no coincidence. It had been founded by her grandfather, her parents, work and Josephine Dexter actually live in Chicago. The Josephine had gone to Dexter, to have the baby and to be looked after by work,
Mother in Chicago Work, Mccormick was a lawyer and both he and his father had been abolitionists than this was an enterprise that words grandmother had also participated in by hiring people who are fleeing north and employing them until they could be more permanently settled. Katharine's mother was also a supporter of the suffrage movement and an advocate for what was at the time, referred to as prudent sex, in other words, contraception, which this was both illegal and socially extremely discouraged. The dexterous were in it
dreamily, affluent and prominent family with branches in Boston, Dexter, Michigan and Chicago. They could trace their roots back to Massachusetts Colony all the way to sixteen forty two and they work their way into positions of wealth as well as local and even national influence. Essentially everywhere they lived. They are basically a an affluent, very powerful family and Catherine herself was a smart, studious, serious child and she was considered by the adults around her to be very mature for her age. These traits cemented themselves in her personality after the sudden death of her father following a severe heart attack. When she was only fourteen after her father's death, Catherine and her mother relocated to Boston where she was expected to steady art and literature, because that was the customary education path for a young woman in Boston, affluent society
but when it was time to unroll and secondary school Catherine in part because of her father's death insisted on studying science, eventually Catherine in her mother compromised and she was allowed to go to a finishing school that had a very good academic, patients in May of eighteen. Ninety four Katharine's older brother SAM, who was just starting his own law career, died, suddenly and unexpectedly of spinal Meningitis Catherine was just a few months die of her nineteenth birthday. Katharine's mother was understandably distraught. Catherine was heartbroken as well, but also angry. Having law both her brother and her father, both under the care of doctors who are powerless to help them. It just made a furious. She became even more detail to pursue a career as a scientist, although she put that effort on hold for eighteen months to accompany her bereft mother in Europe on the trip the Josephine had arranged to try to escape her grief.
Catherine resumed her education in November of eighteen. Ninety five, when she and her mother return to Boston. She first spent a few months studying at a local college, but she left because she didn't find there cereal, very new or challenging to her. She started looking for a better school and considered attending both harboured and Ratcliff, She finally decided on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then known as Boston Tech, Chose MIT, in spite of warnings that it made it hard for women students to study there as of eighteen. Ninety six, when Mccormick again pursuing her admission to MIT. Only forty four one
we're enrolled in only one had ever graduated from their Catherine did pass her entrance exams, but because her education had been in a finishing school, she was required to take a number of other preparatory classes before she could start her real degree work. So, even though she had passed the exam, she had to basically read you. The same courses of study and four classes that were considered. legitimate. She worked on all these classes from eighteen, ninety, six until eighteen, ninety nine and then finally enrolled as a regular student at the age of twenty five. She graduated with the bachelors degree in biology in nineteen o four. as one example of her life at MIT, the sky. The policies of the day required Ladys to wear hats. Mccormick, refuse, citing the fact that the feathers that we're fashion of on ladies hats were, in fact fire hazard, what they were born in the lab. She finally got the chemistry department to repeal that rule, not just
Her, but for all female students happenings original plan after graduation had been to study to become a surge in. However, just before the start of her senior year, sea became re acquainted with Stanley Mccormick dexterous end. The Mccormick's had connection that went back or decades families, Father Cyrus, Mccormick owned International Harvester company, which had been founded by his father, the inventor of the mechanical harvester. When Stanley Fathers Factory was severely damaged in the great Chicago fire, it was Katharine's Father with the help of a relief programme, to rebuild the city who convinced him not to move his business elsewhere. Catherine Stanley had first met at a ball in eighteen. Eighty, nine, when Catherine was just thirteen and Stanley was fourteen. Then sixteen years later, on September, first, nineteen o three.
They were both coincidentally had a resort outside of Boston known as Beverly farms. Stanley immediately picked up their friendship as though they had never been apart, even though cats, actually found this a little odd and off pudding awfully familiar given behaviour expectations at the time all their little familiar was within a month. Stanley had proposed to her. Catherine, however, was afraid that her ambition to become a surgeon would be impossible as if she got married. Nonetheless, she eventually accepted. Then she broke off and she accepted again. Then she broke off again. She wound up ending their engagement three times before eventually got married Stanley, for his part, was passionate and persistence, even going so far as to go
the Geneva uninvited after Catherine had called off one of their engagements in an effort to try to win her back aside from this ardor Catherine found some of his behaviour troubling and erratic. For example, he became obsessed about the fact that he had masturbated and he was terrified that this had somehow ruined his potential to be a husband. But in spite of all, is that the pair finally married on September fifteenth of nineteen o four yet era, they were clearly a lot of different factors going into Catherine's perpetual ending of their engagement and her elected to get married to him, but she does
have genuinely loved him and, in his more stable moments, found him to be a nice delightful person to be around. However, after their marriage, it became clear almost immediately that Stanley was really not in good mental health. The Mccormick family was also reported to just be extremely dysfunctional families. Father was described as a tyrant and his mother as a religious velvet. His older sister was in full time care due to her own mental illness and biographers have described his other siblings as sociopath Catherine hoped that removing Stanley from Chicago and from his family's influence and all of the pressures, unhealthy family dynamics would help him recover. Instead,
two years into their marriage. His condition deteriorated to the point that he had to be hospitalized. He was admitted to Maclean Hospital for the insane and he was diagnosed with dementia Pray Cox of the catatonic type schizophrenia, basically at the age of He too, he was later moved her Riven rock, which is an estate in California that had actually been purchased for the care of his older sister, who had sense, then move to a sanitarium that wine description. He had a family that had bought an estate to provide care for his mentally ill, older sister sort of encapsulates a lot of stuff about the Mccormick family. Katharine's efforts to take care of Stanley would be a huge part of the room
most of the rest of her life, and it was also a source of strain between her and his family. She and the Mccormick's had major differences of opinion and how he should be cared for entreated. This battle was huge and ugly, and sometimes it was extremely public to the point that it took all of them to court on more than one occasion and was frequently covered, as us and all in the newspapers compounding the situation was the Stanley Behaviour towards women The was so alarming and inappropriate that he can actually only be cared for by male doctors and nurses for about twenty years Catherine generally only saw her husband from afar from some vantage point where he could not see her.
however, even as doctors and his family suggested repeating it repeatedly that she divorce him or get an enormous Catherine refuse to give up her role in families, life and care. One reason was that she really believed him Emily were part of the problem and that they did not have his best interests at heart when making decisions on his behalf, but she had also been powerless to stop the study, the sudden death of her father and her brother, and so that was probably also part of what drove her to continue to be married to Stanley and to try to find the best care for We're not going to talk about the details here, but stateless care that his feet surrounding it were ongoing for more than forty years gaps and Catherine advocacy, work were often due to some kind of crisis with Stanley or his family or his team of doctors. It was basically
underlying layer of conference life right up until Stanley death. After a brief word from one of our great sponsors, we are going to talk about Catherine Dexter, Mccormick's role in these suffrage movement. This episode of stuff, you must than is required. brought to you by love book. If you ve ever wanted to share a love story with somebody, but you weren't really sure how to start that is where love book comes in. These are totally customizable books that you can give as gifts to the people that you love and care about. Most people them to list out the reasons why they love someone. You can create characters that look just like yourself in the then you're sending the book to you all the way down to outfits and accessories, and then you have the option to personalize ever single page as much as you want, or if that sounds like a little too much. There's an express option that create the whole book in just a few clicks. Love book is the perfect gift for Valentine's day, which is coming up soon, but also a member.
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can create characters. It look like yourself and the research re done, outfits and accessories. You personalized each page as much as you want, but you So you have the option of what they call the express option, which will create a complete book with just a few clicks Love book even offers a membership programme. Now you will save immediately on your purchase today, and then we see two percent on future purchases, visit love book online dotcom, slash, I heard in you're going give a special twenty percent discount, but is only fur listeners again. Love book Online Dotcom, slash, I heart to receive a special twenty percent discount Catherine Dexter Mccormick's. First, involvement in the movement for women Suffrage was, while she was still in college. She joined the college equal Suffrage League, which had been formed by students from Radcliffe, wildly in Boston College
make was the first MIT student to join through the nineteen teen. She was also active in the Massachusetts woman Suffrage Alliance, where she toward cities and towns in Massachusetts to re support for women's right to vote. This included at one point, speaking from the water in Boston Harbour, when police refused to allow the crowd to congregate on the beach. She was all a big part of keeping the Massachusetts Branch of the National american woman Suffrage Association or in a w ass, a financially afloat as that organism got bigger it had some trouble making its ends meet in part, because not all of the new members paid their new their dues on time, Mccormick's, work and record keeping and sometimes having the awkward conversations getting people to pay their delinquent dues got the organization back on track, She eventually became treasurer of the organization and a member of its board carry Chapman TAT who help found
International woman Suffrage Alliance recruited Mccormick to join that organization is well she'd, heard Mccormick, speak and thought her speaking in writing. Abilities plus her fluency and multiple languages would make her a good choice to become the organizations corresponding secretary. Mccormick was eventually elected. Position. In addition to doing extensive work. Speaking, writing travelling and working within these organizations, Mccormick, also number of financial contributions to the suffrage movement, including bailing out one of the one organizations magazine that had fallen into debt. In contrast to recent podcast subjects, a fire do leave seeing who support of increasingly radical arms the Suffrage movement in Britain was unwavering Mccormick was not in favour of more radical or militant demonstrations, for example, after being asked for a donation to the Suffrage Movement Helen Miguel White, who was the first woman in the United States to earn
The hd wrote a letter to the New York Times, decrying, the more militant suffragettes in Britain Whites letter rain. The headline upbraid suffragists, since they condone outrages. Mrs White refuses. Cash Mccormick writing in her capacity as treasurer of the any w essay respond. In a letter published under the headline on militant women treasure national suffrage body says it is done. I just want to take a moment to point out. Neither of these women wrote these headlines but added arrive at the New York Times did in her letter, but Cormick said quote: whatever may be the opinions held by our members. The fact remains that the National Association is not a militant Suffrage association that there is no militant Suffrage Association among our many
which is, moreover, the work we are doing, will bear any scrutiny which may be directed upon it from those holding MRS White Point of view, these opinions held by the any W S, AIDS members are an oblique right. To Alice Paul. These letters came out about a month after Paul's nineteen thirteen women suffrage paraded Washington D C, which led to a confrontation with police, along with many of the innate W the age younger members Paul was willing to take more aggressive steps to try to get more immediate results for women's rights Paul eventually split off from the end of the and formed her own organisation, the Congressional Union in nineteen fourteen taking the W S, age, more, militant members with her. The schism between the two organisations widened with Paul wanting more militant actions for more meat
change, while the any ws AY was willing to work more gradually unless confrontational, IE and with Mccormick supporting the any w S is prevailing. Opinion same year. Mccormick was elected first vice president of the aid that the USA were one of the tasks before her was to revitalize the organization. Following the loss of Paul and some of its members, she organised fund raising she fine tuned their logistics. She tried to truly separate their aims from the congressional unions and she put together plans to lobby in states that had not yet passed. Suffrage bills for women. Dna double USA and the rest of the movement saw the results of their efforts in women gaining the right to vote. In an increasing number of states culminating in the Nineteenth amendment, which was ratified in nineteen twenty after another brief sponsor break, we will talk about Mccormick's work in the world of country
in this episode of stuff. You missed in history classes brought to you by W W, formerly wait. Watchers they have launched a new might be to be programmed at their most groundbreaking and customize programme. Ever I joined W W because I was really looking for something that was going to help encourage means. You make healthier eating choices. They have really done that when you joined them W W program, you will take a personal assessment. It ask a question is about your eating. Habits in your behaviour is not scientifically matches you up with which plan is going to be the best for you, I'm on blue plan, and it has made such a big difference or me in terms of encouraging means: eat healthy foods join W, W, formerly wait. Watchers unlocked customize weight loss plan that can make losing weight easier for you had gone over to Debbie Debbie dot com, that's w w dot com to joint Debbie Debbie. Today, with a limited time, offer this episode of stuff. You miss than history classes brought to you by Norton three sixty with life
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of the show quote prudent sex with something when her mother had supported. At the time. Schizophrenia was believed to be an inherited condition with children of schizophrenia, parents certain to develop schizophrenia themselves. So even though Mccormick was not having a physical relationship with her husband, she could you, We see the importance of couples preventing pregnancy for health reasons, but it wasn't. I just medical necessity Mccormick genuinely felt that way, needed to be able to control their own bodies and decide for themselves when or whether to get pregnant. There could not possibly be equality between the sexes in her mind, as long as women's bodies and lives could be derailed by unplanned pregnancies, an unplanned children Mccormick met Birth control, ACT.
Margaret Sanger, in Boston in nineteen, seventeen at the trial of a man who had been arrested for distributing singers pamphlets on birth control. At the time these pamphlets and other information about contraception considered to be obscenity under the Comstock ACT. A very broad federal, statute that outlawed of literature, information about abortion and contraception, classified as obscene under the law after meeting anger and, at her request, Mccormick started smuggling diaphragm back from her trips to Europe Diet Ams were illegal in the United States, but they were illegal imports of Europe and, unlike condoms, they were a form of contraception that women could control for themselves. Mccormick would take advantage of her. Emily Chateau outside of Geneva, her fluency in several languages and her money to do this. She would go to Europe. travel and poses a scientist drawing on her now
of biology acquired at MIT, she would buy up huge numbers of diaphragm and then have them so into the linings and pockets of garments so that she can smuggle them back into the United States. She did this with more than one thousand diaphragm and although the records are unclear, most of this was probably funded with her own money through the nineteen twenties Mccormick was involved and birth control advocacy going to meetings and conferences and using her knowledge of biology to study reproduction. She also dedicated some of her mental and financial resources to endocrine research, having become convinced that her husband's mental health issues were really due to a malfunction, ing, endocrine system she actually establish. The narrow indicates research foundation at Harvard Medical School and nineteen twenty seven and she funded other research into the endocrine system as well, and a sort of aside Nosey established a hospital for the mentally ill at whist or state hospital through the nineteen thirties attitude
the United States were very gradually warmed towards the idea of legal contraception. Although the catholic Church lobbied hard against it, some states began to repeal their obscenity laws or pass specific exemptions for birth control, literature in nineteen thirty, seven, the American Medical Association reversed in earlier decision and came out in support of artificial contraception under a doctor supervision and as part of a marriage in nineteen thirty, eight Margaret Sanger announced that she was forming a citizens committee for Planned parenthood, which would later become the planned Parenthood Federation of America. She continued her birth control, advocacy and Mccormick was was vocal in her support of it as well, even as it drew criticism from the press, her mother and Stanley family, but in nineteen forty, seven Stanley, Mccormick by then one of the only to serve,
Mccormick, siblings, died. A handwritten will dated the day of their wedding was found in Stanley, safe Deposit box, giving his whole estate to his wife. We are told Stanley remaining sister that this will could not be contested and Catherine Dexter Mccormick inherited the entire Mccormick estate. It took her five years to settle the whole estate pay. All the tax is the vast herself of the harvester business and Olives families property, but once all of that was done, she basically turned her sole focus to contraception,
at this point. Although popular support for birth control was increasing, funding to create a reliable contraceptive was almost non existent. On June eighteen, nineteen, fifty three Mccormick and sang Irma with Doktor Gregory Pinkus at the Worcester Foundation for experimental biology and Mr Massachusetts. He'd been researching hormones effects on contraception and Sanger believed he could develop an effective contraceptive Mccormick Roadmap is a little one clear exactly how many dollars for you eventually gave him, but she basically wound up funding all of the work of doktor Pink US, which was carried out in conjunction with governments are trying and other doctors and researchers almost single handedly. Sometimes she funneled these funds through plan parenthood for tax reasons, and she also kept an extremely careful eye on the project carefully. Reviewing their progress very persistently coaxing.
And sometimes plodding along. She was seventy five years old and she was adamant that she see a working version of the pill in her lifetime. Pinkus and team eventually started testing their combined oral contraceptive pill on human subjects and to be clear, Some of the testing and development methods used do not meet today's ethical standards. For example, some work conducted on patients at an asylum others were conducted out of existing birth control. Clinics importer go, but the women enrolled at the trial were often desperate to prevent pregnancy and not thoroughly made aware of the drugs risks, although this didn't run a foul of ethical, at the time. It absolutely would be unethical today, however, in spite of their ethical problems, these trials proved that the drugs Pinkus was developing worked. He could also make the same general point about. Basically, this entire pod cast the suffrage me
Then a comic was part of largely excluded. Black women and other minorities, and Margaret Sanger had ties to the agenda movement, which was really popular in the twenties and thirty. So, basically, all of the things we are talking about today, including various things that were tried and Stanley Mental Health care, had issues that were somewhere between between troubling and of horrid a century later in nineteen, fifty seven, an event which combine Synthetic estrogen with synthetic progesterone was approved for use in regulating menstrual cycles. Of course, in red leading the cycle. It was also preventing population. The FDA approved its used for this purpose as the first oral contraceptive in nineteen sixty
we ve got out of the way Mccormick turn her focus to the fact that MIT did not have adequate housing for female students and nineteen sixty eight women's residents, Stanley Mccormick Hall, opened its doors. There was MIT First residents house exclusively for women and it quadrupled the number of women students. The MIT could house bringing the number up to two hundred. The dormitories dedication took place three months after Mccormick's death at the age of ninety two. She died on December. Twenty eight nineteen sixty seven of a stroke, her financial contributions to the creation of the pill.
Or even then largely forgotten. Her death was not even reported as news, however, in her well, she gave sizeable donations to the planned parent had Federation Anti Stanford University to assist women who wanted to get a medical degree. She also made contributions posthumously to numerous civic organisations, as well as several that were devoted to art and music. She had really all of this and Stanley honour. She also established the Catherine Dexter Mccormick Library to be how's, that the planned Parenthood Federation offices in New York- and that is Catherine Dexter, Mccormick.
That's another one of those people and it comes up often in this part, castor. I hear their life story and think of the lazy as person alive like they have so much work. You and I have jokes off off MIKE about how this episode on Catherine S, Dexter, Mccormick and one that is going to run around the same time. You may I have heard it already about the declaration of sentiments have both could have been supporters because they're still involved, but then we would have had Three two partners in a month that were all about suffrage, which we love this topic, but our listening like variety, which is why? Why would we did not do it that way? However, the book that guy about Catherine Extra Mccormick is enormous. It's it's like. How long is it? I'm gonna pick it up on my here simply through it.
Ok, it's only three hundred pages long, but it seems a Norman. It's got a whole. It's got so much more information about about Stanley, mental health care about various friendships and ships that she developed with other women in the suffrage me read like just so much other stuff that we did not get into she's, pretty amazing. That book is called Catherine Extra Mccormick Pioneer for women's rights, and I think that I was working around to you is that one of the things that is
it's me about having done this episode in and the one that is coming out either already or soon about the the declaration of sentiments and there. The cynical false convention is, I wonder how those women's lives may have been different. Had they had access to contraception, because so many of them had seven or eight children, and more than likely they had seven or eight children, because they had no choice about methods of not having children that were actually reliable and effective. So anyway, that's Catherine Extra Mccormick alpha listener. Male listen! It is not about a Catherine Dexter requirement. It is about moonshine, it is from Jack's faxes, dear tracing Holly, I'm a proud, a love of the University of Tennessee Knoxville, so you're episode on moonshine
reminded me of a cultural reference. If you're listeners live in the south and or Watch Assisi sports, they are probably aware of the unofficial. Uti K fight sign rocky top. However, the band only plays the chorus games and the verses are full of strange mountain culture and the second verse there is a direct reference to federal agents. Looking for stills, you touched on illegal moonshine business, which I personally washed explode, while working in two different local liquor, liquor, stores, popcorn sudden, was a long time producer of moonshine and after his death, his recipe is now being used for illegal corn, whiskey.
It has caused a lot of debate on the areas, cultural history and what is appropriate representation? I could go on for a while about the idea of quote poor stupid southerners. I the stereotype, but you have addressed this- am thank you. I will say that a lot of people still get their shine from some local producer and guard their sources jealously. Personally, the best I've ever had was produced in a very urgent area of Knoxville by a passionate advocate of the community and mountain heritage, and one of his best flavors was rosemary, go figure, and then he sends a little note that less related about things that he be eat as well as new. Thank you drags. One of the reasons that I wanted to read. This email is that I actually wanted to talk about popcorn Sutton. In that episode.
He was a character. It was very well known, like in the Maggie Valley area of North Carolina and parts of North Carolina in Tennessee, and there are lots of videos of him and documentaries of him about his moon shining. And what are the reasons that we didn't? I didn't into putting him in the in the firing line. Was that, if a very sad story, he he was, he had had a raid. There was a federal raid on his operation and he had already been on house arrest and he was sentenced to prison and he went to taking his own life rather than returning to prison, and it was such a huge story with. layers. Do it that I could not find a good place to put it in the already long story of moonshine that we had in that. The other thing was. I went looking around for a video of ham to share on our
for media. After that episode came out, because I had kind of wanted to tell a little bit of his story, but couldn't find a place for it, and I could not find any in which he was not cousin, a blue streak, because that is how he thought and the one that I did find is a very lovely photo essay which has a picture of his tombstone on it, which has many people consider to be the mother of all swear words on it so like even then, even on his tombstone, yet wearing a very foul mouth full of foul language, but anyway, he's a very interesting character in his story has a lot of parallel to the overall story of moonshine in that part of the battle.
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