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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 181: M-79: T-174

Records of the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company, 1776-ca.1985 (inclusive), 1859-1968 (bulk)


Correspondence, financial records, pharmacological studies, advertising copy, etc., of the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company.


  • Creation: 1776-1985
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1859-1968

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Most of the collection is open to research. Series V is closed. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


272.76 linear feet ((203 file boxes, 36 cartons, 28 folio boxes, 83 folio+ boxes, 3 oversize boxes, 2 supersize boxes) plus 190 oversize volumes, 12 supersize folders)

The records of the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company document the daily operations of a manufacturing company from the late 1800s into the 1960s. Material includes financial records, advertising records and advertisements, research studies on the effectiveness of specific herbs and the Company's products in general, photographs, correspondence, legal records, pamphlets and a textbook published by the Company, actual products and their packaging, clippings and articles about Lydia Estes Pinkham and the Company, and a small amount of personal family papers. There are very few personal papers of Lydia Pinkham's; those that survive are quite fragile, and access copies are available on microfilm or photocopy. Early records of the Company include letters written from Dan Pinkham to his brother Will Pinkham while Dan was in Brooklyn selling the Compound (#3118). They include his daily budgets and observations about customers and druggists in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Complete records, including photographs, of the manufacturing process and formulae used in Pinkham products are in the collection, as well as labeling, packaging, and shipping records. There are records pertaining to the obscenity charges against Pinkham advertising (1900), investigations by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, audiotapes of radio advertisements, posters, architects' drawings, and novelties. Many fans of Pinkham products wrote testimonial letters to Lydia Pinkham, which were subsequently used to advertise Pinkham products; most of these letters were destroyed by the company to protect the writers' privacy; a few are included.

When the collection was originally processed in June 1973, material was numbered and filed by both size and type of item. Loose paper records are housed in folders and numbered in a sequential order beginning at #1 and continuing through #3372. Material bound into a volume or kept in a binder of any sort are referred to as volumes, and are also numbered sequentially from Vol. 1 to Vol. 600. Any of these volumes too large to be housed in a standard archival file box or carton are referred to as "oversize volumes" and noted in the inventory by an "o" after their number. Some additional records were donated and described in 1974; this material is described in Series VI, and the numbering schema follows that of Series I to Series III. In all cases, if folders needed to be broken up for ease of use, or if material had to be inserted into the numbering schema, "a," "b," and so on were added to the numbers. The inventory lists only the numbers of the folders or volumes; the container list must be consulted in order to determine the box that folder or volume is stored within. In 2015, additional processing was done on Series IV to facilitate digitization; see that series description for a more complete explanation of the numbering schema followed. In 2017, a more complete inventory of the collection was conducted, and many oversize volumes were then housed within boxes for preservation purposes.

Series I, FINANCIAL RECORDS, 1859-1968 (Folders #1-635, Volumes 1o-327ao), includes journals, ledgers, cash books and payroll records, as well as tax statements, invoices, inventories, and freight bills, for the American, Mexican, and Canadian operations of the Company. The financial records date from 1859 (when the Pinkham Compound was sold only privately), but from the company's incorporation in 1873 on are much more complete. Employee records, and records of the Lougee and Galen Pharmacal Companies (both Pinkham subsidiaries), orders, price lists, and stock records are also included. This series documents in great detail the daily financial operations of a manufacturing company from the late 1800s through the early 1960s. The series is arranged by type of record.

Subseries A, Journals and ledgers, 1881-1968 (Volume 1o - Volume 67o), contains bound volumes holding Pinkham Company financial transactions. Journals are leather-bound volumes that record chronological financial transactions made by the Pinkham Company. They are stamped with "Journal" on the spine, and were generally used for one or two years. Ledgers are bound volumes that list transactions with accounts (sales, purchases, etc.) over time by account name; each volume contains an alphabetical index in the front.

Subseries B, Cash books, 1859-1966 (Volume 68o - Volume 135o), contains bound volumes that detail cash transactions of the Pinkham Company. Most twentieth century records are divided into "cash paid" and "cash received" volumes.

Subseries C, Payroll, 1877-1966 (Volume 136o - Volume 169o), contains bound volumes that document the weekly and sometimes yearly salaries paid to employees through most of the Lydia Pinkham Company's history. Volumes are listed chronologically.

Subseries D, Advertising registers, 1911-1933 (Volume 170o - Volume 186o), contains volumes that track how much money the Pinkham Company spent on advertising. Ten volumes (Volume 184o - Volume 184ho) track detailed advertising spending done in each state between 1928 and 1932 by local periodical title.

Subseries E, Receipts, 1875-1888, 1946-1965 (Folders #1-45, Volume 187o - Volume 196o), includes receipts, invoices, tax statements, and freight bills. A number of bound volumes list invoices recorded from 1946 through 1965. Loose receipts date only from 1875 to 1888, and document the daily operations of the business. Receipts are from local Massachusetts businesses (Lynn, Boston, Malden) as well as those in New York and Providence; they include packaging and ingredients, as well as rail shipping and advertising costs. Many of these receipts are written on the pictorial letterhead popular in the mid-nineteenth century; images of products, factories, storefronts, and patriotic symbols are throughout. Also included are some personal Pinkham family receipts, including for poll taxes, furniture, and clothing. Loose receipts are organized by year (and sometimes by month within a year). In some cases all yearly receipts from a particular business are grouped together. Freight bills are receipts from railway lines, steamship companies, American Express, and other shipping companies.

Subseries F, Inventories and appraisals, 1883-1965 (Folders #46-130, Volume 198 - Volume 243), include stock and furniture inventories. Yearly inventories were usually taken each quarter, possibly in part for tax purposes. Stock and furniture inventories also include other parts of the administration of the business (blank books, books in advertising room, etc.). In addition to the factory in Lynn, stock and furniture inventories accounted for material in Canada, Chicago, and other sites. Stock and furniture inventories seem to have been created in-house, while building and fixture inventories were created by the American Appraisal Company. Some inventories include depreciation assessment. Arranged chronologically.

Subseries G, Statements, 1883-1962 (Folders #131-222, Volume 244o - Volume 283o), contains records of the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company's cash on hand. Statements are bank statements, monthly and yearly balance sheets. Journals are bound volumes with monthly statements written inside. Many statements are in binders, typed on looseleaf paper.

Subseries H, Audits and other reports, 1902-1936 (Folder #223, Volume 284 - Volume 304), contains descriptions of accounting methods, annual statements of business, and reports on examinations.

Subseries I, Taxes, 1913-1963 (Folders #224-370), contains correspondence, tax returns, charts and other documentation relating to the Pinkham Company's United States taxes. Also included is material on the firm's Canadian taxes, as well as a few folders on taxes paid in Mexico and England.

Subseries J, Investments, 1896-1957 (Folders #371-415), contains bills, correspondence with investment brokers, and investment statements.

Subseries K, Mexican branch financial records, 1933-1964 (Folders #416-462b), contains accounting reports, contracts, sales reports, and correspondence related to the Pinkham Company's business dealings in Mexico. Of note are receipts and correspondence relating to business conducted with the pharmaceutical chain Sanborns Mexico (#41-424).

Subseries L, General and miscellaneous records, 1917-1967 (Folders #463-626, Volume 305 - Volume 320ao), includes inter-office memos, quarterly reports, tax information, and information related to payments, loans, benefits, and bonuses to employees.

Subseries M, Galen Pharmacal Company records, 1933-1936 (Folders #627-632, Volume 321 - Volume 327), contains correspondence and financial documents (receipts, tax records, bank statements, etc.) from the Pinkham Company's dealings with the Galen Pharmacal Company.

Subseries N, Lougee Medicine Company records, 1887-1888 (Folders #633-635) primarily consists of correspondence received by the Lougee Medicine Company.

Series II, ADVERTISING RECORDS, ca.1844-1968 (Folders #636-2538, Volume 328o - Volume 409o), includes articles about the Pinkham company, reports of ad sales, extensive documentation of the company's newspaper and magazine advertisements, correspondence about advertisements and their costs, and art work used in advertisements. See also Series IV for oversize art work and advertisements.

Subseries A, Advertising studies, reports, and sales records, 1920-1967 (Folders #636-750, Volume 328o - Volume 343), includes specific examples of advertising campaigns produced by the Pinkham Company, as well as advertising plans, market surveys, advertising schedules, sales reports, advertising and marketing recommendations for newspapers and radio stations (and later television stations) across the United States and Canada, and clippings about advertising trends, both in general and in the particular case of the Pinkham Company.

Subseries B, Correspondence, contracts, and statements, 1873-1949 (Folders #751-801, Volume 344) includes correspondence and contracts with newspapers for advertising arrangements for the Pinkham Company. Also included are billing statements for newspaper advertisements for Pinkham Company products. Folders are listed chronologically.

Subseries C, Advertising in newspapers, periodicals, and books, ca.1875-1957 (Folders #802-833, Volume 345o - Volume 369o), contains samples of print advertisements for a variety of publications. Volume 345 to Volume 369o are large scrapbooks created by the company, with advertisement copy pasted in chronologically.

Subseries D, Advertising copy: test copies, 1879-1953 (Folders #834-2396, Volume 370o - Volume 378), includes test copies from United States and foreign newspapers, magazines, trade journals, and other periodicals, 1935-1950. These were sent to the Pinkham Company by their advertising agency, and in general, each folder contains one or more preliminary copies of each advertisement run. At the top of each sheet is the name of the advertising company, the type of publication the ad would run in (e.g. "newspapers"), the type of product being advertised, the size (often in column inches) the ad would run, and the period of time the ad would run. Some folder titles include the title or first line on the advertisement, others include merely the type of periodical in which the ad would run. Many ads ran with the same or similar titles, but at different sizes. Folders found empty in 1973 when the collection was initially processed and numbered were retained. While most of the subseries is mid-twentieth century advertising, a few volumes pertain to the Pinkham Company's nineteenth century roots: advertisements for Pinkham products can be found in a volume of photographic views of Lynn, Massachusetts (Volume #370o).

Subseries E, Photographic work, art work, and layouts, ca.1844-1939 (Folders #2397-2412), contains one tintype of Lydia Estes Pinkham, portrait artwork in a variety of formats, and a few folders of artwork produced for product packaging and advertising. See also Series IV for two folders of miscellaneous Pinkham art work.

Subseries F, Pinkham pamphlets and Text-Book, 1893-1962 (Folders #2413-2504, Volumes 379o-408), contains a number of pamphlets and small books published by the Lydia Pinkham Company to promote and advertise its products. Most of the individually listed pamphlets are found in the bound volumes, but are also housed and listed individually, as some of them differ from the bound pamphlets in some respects, such as editions or editorial marks. Also included are some individual pamphlets which are not found in the bound set. Lydia E. Pinkham's Private Text-Book upon Ailments Peculiar To Women, a somewhat more substantial publication than the pamphlets, was meant to provide educational information about menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and other reproductive matters to women, as well as to promote Pinkham products. Voice of Experience pamphlets (#2485-2488) were sponsored by Pinkham Company, written by radio host Marion Sayle Taylor (he billed himself as the "Voice of Experience"), and are mainly about child health and discipline.

Subseries G, Novelties and gifts, 1906-1968 (Folders #2505-2528, Volume 409o), contains samples of small gifts and novelties that were distributed with Pinkham products, or could be sent away for, often from an advertisement within a Pinkham pamphlet. Pamphlets that contained the advertisements for the specific novelties are noted when known. Folders #2506a-2508 include completed questionnaires sent in with an order for a knife or sewing kit; these include information about where customers bought Pinkham products, who recommended them, how long customers had been using them, and what they liked about them. Also included are small samples of Pinkham Company cosmetics and household supplies advertising Pinkham products.

Subseries H, Miscellaneous advertising, 1931-1950 (Folders #2529-2538), consists of glass negatives of advertisements, office documents and advertising records, a folder of litigation records, and lists of counter display and railway car advertising cards. See also Series IV for posters, car cards, phonograph records, and other miscellaneous material used in advertising.

Series III, GENERAL RECORDS, 1776-1967 (Folders #2539-3372, Volume 410o - Volume 600o), includes research studies on herbs and products; labeling, packaging, manufacturing, and shipping records; extensive documentation of the legal battle over control of the company between Aroline Pinkham Gove and the other Pinkham heirs; photographic documentation of the manufacturing process and other photographs; newsclippings, correspondence, miscellaneous business records, books and articles written about Lydia Pinkham, pamphlets and a textbook published by the Company, and family records. Also included in this series is correspondence regarding the obscenity charges against Pinkham advertising in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1900; the counterfeiting case of the same year; and government standards, inspection, and regulations regarding manufacture and advertising of patent medicine. The Text-Book on Ailments Peculiar to Women, in three languages, is also in this series.

Subseries A, Research studies, 1925-1960 (Folders #2539-2602, Volume 410o - Volume 417), includes data, correspondence, reports, and notes on the effects of herbs on various health conditions. Some of the studies were done by doctors and medical researchers before the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company was established, but many were done by the company's own Research Department in the twentieth century. Some portions of these studies have been closed to researchers for varying periods of time because names of patients are given (see Series V for a specific listing).

Subseries B, Manufacturing records, 1873-1957 (Folders #2603-2654b, Volume 418 - Volume 460), includes formulas, data, correspondence, and manufacturing records for the Company in general and also for individual products. Material in this series provides detailed information about the ingredients and procedures used in the production of Pinkham Company products.

Subseries C, Labeling, packaging, and shipping records, 1880-1960 (Folders #2655-2697d, Volume 462o - Volume 522o), includes correspondence, scrapbooks, records, ledgers, and samples of Pinkham product packaging. Material in this subseries contains thorough descriptions and depictions of labeling, bottling, and packaging procedures from the inception of the Pinkham Company through its maturity. Shipping records are primarily receipts and ledgers documenting product shipping.

Subseries D, Trade mark registration, 1882-1956 (Folders #2698-2809), contains correspondence and legal documentation regarding the registering of the Pinkham Company trademark in a variety of countries.

Subseries E, National City Bank records, 1927-1941 (Folders #2810-2819, Volume 523 - Volume 525), contains account statements, stock exchange data, and address books related to the Pinkham Company's accounts with National City Bank.

Subseries F, Photographs (business), 1876-1952 (Folders #2820-2898), contains photographs of the facilities, equipment, and employees of the Pinkham Company. Many of these photographs have been digitized. Some oversize photographs are listed in Series IV. Photographs of the Pinkham family can be found in Subseries G, Family Records.

Subseries G, Family records, 1776-1957 (Folders #2899-2964, Volume 526 - Volume 531), includes photographs, legal documents, scrapbooks, genealogy documents, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and other family papers. Material is generally grouped by individual, and is related mainly to Lydia Pinkham's children and grandchildren. Much of the material relates to Lydia Pinkham's grandson Arthur Wellington Pinkham (1879-1960) and his children. In addition to working for the Pinkham Company, Arthur Pinkham was president of the National City Bank of Lynn, Massachusetts. His genealogical research, at least partly conducted due to an interest in joining the Sons of the American Revolution, is included. See also Subseries H for newsclippings of several family members and Subseries I for more family correspondence.

Subseries H, Newsclippings, pamphlets, books on Lydia Estes Pinkham, 1892-1968 (Folders #2965-3041, Volume 532 - Volume 533, Volume 599o - Volume 600o), includes biographical material on Lydia Estes Pinkham, as well as reviews of books about her, including biographies by Jean Burton and Robert Collier Washburn. Newspaper articles about Pinkham family members and Pinkham Company employees are also included. The series also includes a few photographs featuring Pinkham family members. Most photographs have been digitized.

Subseries I, Miscellaneous business records, 1877-1967 (Folders #3042-3201), contains sales reports, business correspondence, by-laws of the Pinkham Company and other subsidiaries, some Board of Director's records, and a few advertising records. Some notable early records of the Company are included: partnership agreements, certificates of organization, and by-laws. A few folders (#3117-3118) contain 1870s correspondence between Daniel and William Pinkham. Several folders of material (#3171-3175) relate to a 1900 legal case against a man found to be counterfeiting Lydia E. Pinkham Company labels.

Subseries J, Business with government agencies, 1927-1950 (Folders #3202-3222), contains correspondence, minutes, and reports. Most of the items in this subseries relate to the Pinkham Company's interactions with the Federal Trade Commission or the Food and Drug Administration.

Subseries K, General and litigation, 1883-1961 (Folders #3223-3364, Volume 534), includes legal records, as well as some financial and business records and newsclippings. The bulk of this subseries consists of litigation documentation from the case between Lydia Pinkham's descendents for control of the Company. In addition to general court documents, documents in this series record the struggles and positions of the Pinkham family members, who fought to keep their Gove relatives from controlling the Company.

Subseries L, Reference material and correspondence books, 1841-1950 (Folders #3365-3372, Volume 535 - Volume 600o), includes medicinal reference books and notes, bound volumes containing outgoing correspondence, other business correspondence, architectural sketches of a Pinkham Company facility, a guidebook on packaging, and some records from litigation. All the items in the collection that are written in Lydia Estes Pinkham's own hand can be found here; most of these are closed due to fragility but researchers can use microfilm. These include an autograph book, signed by Frederick Douglass; a journal with notes from the Lynn anti-Slavery Society; and a handwritten journal with recipes, including for Vegetable Compound.

Series IV, OVERSIZE AND SUPERSIZE ITEMS, 1896-1951, n.d. (#1+ - 93+, 3372a-3372c), contains Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company products and packaging, advertising posters, counter displays, railroad car advertisements, photographs, architectural drawings, audiotapes, and other oversize material. Counter displays (#51+ - 84f+) are colorful advertisements for Pinkham Company products meant to stand on a store counter or in a window, sometimes holding the actual product. These color lithographs are mounted on cardboard, and most have a pop-out cardboard piece on their backs that enables them to stand. Some are quite large, and a few of these are made with attached side panels that were meant to create a standing display. Railroad car cards (#86o - 86f+) are thin cardboard rectangular signs that were manufactured in the 1920s and 1930s to fit in the advertisement windows on railway and subway cars. A number of actual Pinkham Company products are included in this series, sometimes along with their original packaging (#29m - 50m). Some of the small novelties and gifts in this series were offered by the Pinkham Company as an enticement to answer a questionnaire on the back of the Pinkham pamphlets. Other small novelties can be found in Series II (#2505-2528).

When the collection was originally processed in June 1973, all loose material that was too large for a standard-size archival box was listed in this series. Items were numbered sequentially, starting at #1; some numbers refer to one item, some to a folder of material. Most were originally listed with a suffix of "o," a generic "oversize" designation. Over time, when some of these items were more fully described, or broken into multiple descriptive units, "a," "b," and so on were added after the number when multiple items needed to be described. "31ao" is an example of what resulted. In 2015, much of the material in this series was rehoused, and item and folder descriptions were enhanced. During this process, some items were moved to a more appropriate folder size, or were split into multiple folders. Items have now been identified with an alphabetic suffix that corresponds to the four sizes of oversize folders in use at the Schlesinger Library. For example, what had previously been identified as item "25o" became three folders: "25o," "25af+" and "25bf+." Actual products and product packaging, most of which are not actually oversize material, have been given a suffix designation of "m" to identify them as memorabilia. Thus "34o" is now "34m." See also Series VI for two oversize folders of material (#92o-92af+). The series is roughly arranged by type of item; many descriptions begin with a format designation.

Most of Series IV has been digitized and is available online.

Series V, CLOSED ITEMS, 1930-1958 (Folders #c1-c37b, #501a-501c, Volume 602), includes some research studies from Series III that reveal patient names and have thus been closed. These items are indicated as closed in the General Records and Research studies section of the regular inventory. These items are boxed separately at the end of the collection.

Series VI, ADDENDA, 1877-1960 (Folders #3373-3459, Volume 603, #92ao-92bf+), includes material donated to the Schlesinger Library in June 1974 after the original collection was organized. Addenda includes complete records of the Board of Directors (1883-1954), and additional stockholder and secretarial records; further documents concerning the Gove-Pinkham struggles for control of the Company; papers relating to formula changes, advertising, financial matters, and the Jean Burton biography of Lydia E. Pinkham. Volume 603 and folders #3373-3383 contain records of the Board of Directors (minutes, correspondence, and memoranda). Folders #3373-3375 were removed from two oversize volumes labeled "Board of Directors" and remaining folders were unbound. Folders #3384-3387 contain records of stockholders (minutes, correspondence, memoranda). This material has been arranged to follow the arrangement of Series I through IV.

Photographs have been digitized and are available online.


Lydia Estes Pinkham (1819-1883) was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, the tenth of twelve children of Quakers William and Rebecca Estes. The Estes family were radical abolitionists, as well as admirers of (but never strict adherents to) Swedenborgian religious views. Lydia Estes was involved in the founding of Lynn's Freeman's Institute, and was active in its Anti-Slavery Society. She attended Lynn Academy, and then worked as a schoolteacher for a number of years. In 1843 she married Isaac Pinkham (1815-1889), they had four children: Charles Hacker (1844-1900); Daniel Rogers (1848-1881); William Henry (1852-1881); and Aroline Chase (1857-1939), later Aroline Pinkham Gove. Isaac Pinkham rarely held one job for long, and for thirty years the Pinkham family's financial welfare was dependent on the success of his various business ventures, as well as the local and national economies. The Pinkham family was rarely well off, and the Pinkham sons were in the habit of holding down jobs at a young age to help support the family.

There is little actual documentation of the beginnings of the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company. Lydia Pinkham brewed home remedies, concoctions of herbs and alcohol, for menstrual pain and other health issues. The tight finances of the Pinkham family after the financial crash of 1873 apparently led her to ask for payment from those neighbors to whom she normally gave her remedy for free. In 1875 the Pinkham family realized the potential money-making opportunity in selling remedies, and worked together to produce, market, and sell Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. The Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company was officially founded in 1876.

Lydia Pinkham initially oversaw the creation and bottling of the product at her home, and her sons were involved in promotion of the product through distribution of handbills, and through direct appeals to pharmacists and other storekeepers. In 1877 the first newspaper advertisements ran for Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. The Compound was advertised as a cure for "female maladies," which could include any or all of the following: menstrual cramps, headache, "female weakness" and nervousness associated with the menstrual cycle, hot flashes, depression, and other symptoms common during menopause. Eventually the Company developed and sold other products targeted to women's health, as well as more general ailments, such as hemorrhoids and acidic stomach.

Lydia Pinkham's sons Daniel and William were both instrumental in the early years of the company, primarily as traveling salesmen. Both young men died in 1881, which put a strain on Lydia, the larger family, and on the business. The remaining Pinkham children took more central roles in the Company. Charles Hacker Pinkham had married Jennie Barker Jones (1856-1933) in 1878; they had six children. Aroline Chase Pinkham married William H. Gove in 1882; they had four children. Lydia Pinkham's grandchildren would become as involved in the running of the company as their parents and uncles.

In 1882, the Company was incorporated, and a three-person Board of Directors was established. Stock was held equally by Charles Pinkham and Aroline Pinkham Gove, with Gove's husband Will and his brother-in-law Eugene Barry each holding a small amount. Lydia Pinkham received, and replied to, many letters from women who had bought the Compound, and excerpts of these letters were included in advertisements and in the Pinkham pamphlets as well. After Lydia's death in 1883, Jennie Barker Pinkham replied to these letters (though under the signature of Lydia Pinkham). Between 1883 and 1886 business boomed and the building of a new bottling plant and laboratory, located on Western Avenue in Lynn, was necessary in 1886.

Charles Pinkham ran the Lydia E. Pinkham Company between the deaths of his brothers in 1881 and his own death in 1900. The Goves shared in the profits as Directors, but did not help to run the business; however, they seized control after Charles' death, and Will Gove became president. This caused a permanent rift in the family between Charles Pinkham's children and Aroline Pinkham Gove and family, although the two factions found ways to coexist for many years.

The Goves gave Jennie Pinkham a seat on the Board of Directors and made her manager of the correspondence department. Her son Arthur Wellington Pinkham dropped out of Brown University to work for the Company. As Vice President, Arthur supervised foreign trade as well as manufacturing. Bill Gove, Aroline Pinkham Gove's son, ran the advertising department until his death in 1925, when his sister Lydia Pinkham Gove took over the Company advertising. Lydia Pinkham Gove inserted herself into the Company advertising, combining current images of herself with stock images of Lydia Pinkham to suggest the Company's products were still relevant. Lydia Pinkham Gove also used her early trans-continental airplane flight as an advertising ploy for the Pinkham Company. Her cousin Arthur disapproved of this type of direction for the Company and in 1936 filed an injunction to prevent her from interfering in the Company's business. The long and public legal fight between the two parts of the family drained money and prestige for the company, and was finally resolved in Arthur Pinkham's favor.

Beginning in the early twentieth century, the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company continued expanding its products and reach. The Company had manufacturing operations in Mexico and Canada as well as the United States, and its trademark was registered in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia. However with the rise of professionalized medicine during the same period, women had less reason to turn to a herbal tonic for their health issues. After Arthur Pinkham's death in 1960, there was not a family member who saw a way forward for the Company. It was sold to Cooper Laboratories of Connecticut in 1968.

For more detailed information, see Female Complaints: Lydia Pinkham and the Business of Women's Medicine by Sarah Stage (Norton, 1979).


The collection is arranged in six series:

  1. Series I. Financial records, 1859-1968 (Folders #1-635, Volume 1o - Volume 327ao)
  2. Series II. Advertising records, ca.1844-1968 (Folders #636-2538, Volume 328o - Volume 409o)
  3. Series III. General records, 1776-1968 (Folders #2539-3372, Volume 410o - Volume 600o)
  4. Series IV. Oversize and supersize items, 1896-1951, ca.1985, n.d. (#1+ - 93+, 3372a-3372c)
  5. Series V. Closed items, 1930-1958 (#c1-c37b, #501a-501c, Volume 602)
  6. Series VI. Addenda, 1877-1960 (Folders #3373-3459, Volume 603, Oversize folders #92ao-92bf+)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 1503, 71-153, 73-158, 2002-M160, 2007-M155, 2011-M4

The records of the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company were deposited with the Schlesinger Library by her great-grandson, Daniel E. Pinkham, in 1968 and 1971. Additional records of the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company were deposited with the Schlesinger Library by Hermon Smith in November 1973. Several examples of original Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company product packaging were added to the collection between 2002 and 2011.


  1. Box 1: 1-16
  2. Box 2: 17-17s
  3. Box 3: 17t-18p
  4. Box 4: 18q-21b
  5. Box 5: 22-24a
  6. Box 6: 25-27a
  7. Box 7: 28-30b
  8. Box 8: 30c-37
  9. Box 9: 38-45
  10. Box 10: 46-51, Vols. 198-199
  11. Box 11: 52-63a
  12. Box 12: 64-84, Vol. 238
  13. Box 13: 85-102
  14. Box 14: 103-113
  15. Box 15: 114-130, Vol. 243
  16. Box 16: 131-132, Vol. 252-254
  17. Box 17: 133-139, Vol. 255-256
  18. Box 18: 140-146
  19. Box 19: 147-153
  20. Box 20: 154-160
  21. Box 21: 161-166
  22. Box 22: 167-170
  23. Box 23: 171-175
  24. Box 24: 176-180
  25. Box 25: 181-185
  26. Box 26: 186-195
  27. Box 27: 196-206
  28. Box 28: 207-211
  29. Box 29: 212-214a
  30. Box 30: 214b-217a
  31. Box 31: 217b-219c
  32. Box 31a: 220-222
  33. Box 32: Vols. 284-292
  34. Box 33: 223, Vols. 293-304
  35. Box 34: 224-234
  36. Box 35: 235-248
  37. Box 36: 249-261
  38. Box 37: 262-280
  39. Box 38: 281-294
  40. Box 39: 295-304
  41. Box 40: 305-313
  42. Box 41: 314-324
  43. Box 42: 325-337
  44. Box 43: 338-345
  45. Box 44: 346-355
  46. Box 45: 356-370
  47. Box 46: 371-382
  48. Box 47: 383-391
  49. Box 48: 392-402
  50. Box 49: 403-415
  51. Box 50: 416-427
  52. Box 51: 428-434
  53. Box 52: 435-443a
  54. Box 53: 443b-449b
  55. Box 54: 450-457
  56. Box 55: 458-462b
  57. Box 56: 463-475
  58. Box 57: 476-487
  59. Box 58: 488-501
  60. Box 59: 502-511, Vol. 305
  61. Box 60: 512-524
  62. Box 61: 525-537
  63. Box 62: 538-549
  64. Box 63: 550-559
  65. Box 64: 560-576, Vol. 308
  66. Box 65: 577-589
  67. Box 66: 590-602
  68. Box 67: 602a-617
  69. Box 68: 618-626
  70. Box 69: 627-632, Vols. 323, 326-327
  71. Box 69a: Vol. 321
  72. Box 70: 633-635
  73. Box 71: 636-645, Vol. 330
  74. Box 72: 646-653
  75. Box 73: 654-659
  76. Box 74: 660-661, Vols. 332-334
  77. Box 75: 662-668, Vols. 335-3388
  78. Box 76: Vols. 339-340
  79. Box 77: 669-672, Vols. 341-342
  80. Box 78: 673-682
  81. Box 79: 683-693, Vol. 343
  82. Box 80: 694-713
  83. Box 81: 714-724b
  84. Box 82: 725-728b
  85. Box 83: 729-750
  86. Box 84: 751-767
  87. Box 85: 768-772h
  88. Box 86: 772i-772r
  89. Box 87: 772s-773d
  90. Box 88: 774-785, Vol. 344
  91. Box 89: 785a-787
  92. Box 90: 787a-788c
  93. Box 91: 789-792b
  94. Box 92: 792c-799
  95. Box 93: 800-827
  96. Box 94: 828-833, Vols. 367-368
  97. Box 95: 834-891
  98. Box 96: 892-952
  99. Box 97: 953-1030
  100. Box 98: 1031-1098
  101. Box 99: 1099-1176
  102. Box 100: 1177-1248
  103. Box 101: 1249-1319
  104. Box 102: 1320-1380
  105. Box 103: 1381-1446
  106. Box 104: 1447-1520
  107. Box 105: 1521-1583
  108. Box 106: 1584-1652
  109. Box 107: 1653-1722
  110. Box 108: 1723-1785
  111. Box 109: 1786-1851
  112. Box 110: 1852-1925
  113. Box 111: 1926-1991
  114. Box 112: 1992-2063
  115. Box 113: 2064-2133
  116. Box 114: 2134-2206
  117. Box 115: 2207-2279
  118. Box 116: 2280-2350
  119. Box 117: 2351-2391
  120. Box 118: 2392-2395, Vols. 375-378
  121. Box 119: 2396-2412
  122. Box 120: 2413-2444
  123. Box 121: 2445-2468
  124. Box 122: 2469-2491
  125. Box 123: 2492-2500
  126. Box 124: Vols. 390-400, 402-408
  127. Box 124a: 2501-2504
  128. Box 125: 2505-2515
  129. Box 126: 2516-2528
  130. Box 127: 2530-2538
  131. Box 128: 2539-2564
  132. Box 129: 2565-2577
  133. Box 130: 2578-2589
  134. Box 131: 2590-2602, Vol. 417
  135. Box 132: 2603-2643
  136. Box 133: 2644-2654b, Vol. 418
  137. Box 134: 2654c, Vols. 419-423
  138. Box 135: Vols. 424-428
  139. Box 136: Vols. 429-432
  140. Box 137: Vols. 433-437
  141. Box 138: Vols. 438-443
  142. Box 139: Vols. 444-449
  143. Box 140: Vols. 450-456
  144. Box 141: Vols. 457-460
  145. Box 142: 2655-2681
  146. Box 143: 2682-2691, Vol. 461
  147. Box 144: 2691a-2696
  148. Box 145: 2697-2697d
  149. Box 146: 2698-2724
  150. Box 147: 2725-2739
  151. Box 148: 2740-2767
  152. Box 149: 2768-2787
  153. Box 150: 2788-2809
  154. Box 151: 2810-2819, Vols. 523-525
  155. Box 152: 2820-2833
  156. Box 153: 2834-2849
  157. Box 154: 2852-2866
  158. Box 155: 2867-2879
  159. Box 156: 2880-2898
  160. Box 157: 2899-2910, vol. 526
  161. Box 158: 2911-2930
  162. Box 159: 2931-2944, vol. 528-vol. 530
  163. Box 160: 2945-2964, vol. 531
  164. Box 161: 2965-2982
  165. Box 162: 2983-2994, vol. 532
  166. Box 163: 2995-3024, vol. 533
  167. Box 164: 3025-3056
  168. Box 165: 3057-3072
  169. Box 166: 3073-3101
  170. Box 167: 3102-3119, 3122
  171. Box 167a: 3123-3128
  172. Box 168: 3129-3157
  173. Box 169: 3158-3188
  174. Box 170: 3189-3211
  175. Box 171: 3212-3227
  176. Box 172: 3228-3242
  177. Box 173: 3243-3268
  178. Box 174: 3269-3278
  179. Box 175: 3279-3293
  180. Box 176: 3294-3318
  181. Box 177: 3319-3323
  182. Box 178: 3324-3339
  183. Box 179: 3340-3364, vol. 534
  184. Box 180: 3366-3371, vol. 535-vol. 538
  185. Box 181: 3372
  186. Box 181a: 3372
  187. Box 182: Vol. 539, Vol. 541-542, vol. 544-545
  188. Box 183: Vol. 548-Vol. 551
  189. Box 184: Vol. 555, Vol. 557
  190. Box 185: Series IV: 23b, 24b, 43m, 3372a-3372c
  191. Folio Box 186: Series IV: 28m, 28am, 33m, 34m
  192. Carton 187: Series IV: 29m, 30m, 31m, 31am, 36m, 37m, 41am, 49m, 50m, 94m, 96m, 97m
  193. Folio+ Box 188: Series IV: 30am, 32m, 35m, 36am, 37am, 45m, 45am, 45em, 47m, 95m
  194. Box 189: c1-c9, Vol. 602
  195. Box 189a: c10-c15, 501a-501c
  196. Box 190: c16-c25
  197. Box 190a: c26-c37b
  198. Box 190b: Vol. 379o-381o, 384o
  199. Box 190c: 3365, Vols. 401, 537-538, 556
  200. Box 191: Vol. 603, 3373-3380
  201. Box 192: 3381-3411
  202. Box 193: 3412-3452
  203. Box 194: 3453-3459
  204. Carton 195: Vols. 1o-3o
  205. Carton 195a: Vols. 4o-5o
  206. Carton 196: Vols. 6o-7o
  207. Carton 196a: Vols. 8o-9o
  208. Carton 197: Vols. 10o-11o
  209. Folio+ Box 197a: Vol. 37o
  210. Folio+ Box 197b: Vol. 38o
  211. Folio+ Box 198: Vols. 43o, 103o-106o
  212. Carton 199: Vols. 44o-46o
  213. Carton 199a: Vols. 47o-48o
  214. Carton 200: Vols. 49o-50o
  215. Carton 200a: Vols. 51o-52o
  216. Carton 201: Vols. 53o-55o
  217. Folio Box 201a: Vols. 58o, 59o
  218. Folio Box 201b: Vol. 66o
  219. Box 202: Vols. 68oa-68od, 69o-74o, 137o, 145o
  220. Folio+ Box 202a: Vol. 83o
  221. Folio+ Box 202b: Vol. 84o
  222. Folio+ Box 202c: Vol. 102o
  223. Folio+ Box 203: Vols. 107o, 108o, 135o, 139o
  224. Box 204: Vols. 138o, 138ao
  225. Folio+ Box 205: Vols. 152o, 153o
  226. Folio+ Box 206: Vols. 154o, 155o
  227. Folio+ Box 207: Vols. 156o, 160o, 161o, 167o, 168o
  228. Carton 208: Vols. 162o-166o
  229. Folio+ Box 209: Vols. 169o, 190o-192o
  230. Folio+ Box 209a: Vol. 180o
  231. Folio+ Box 209b: Vol. 181o
  232. Folio+ Box 209c: Vol. 183o
  233. Folio+ Box 209d: Vol. 188o
  234. Folio+ Box 210: Vols. 193o-196o, 201o
  235. Folio Box 210a: Vol. 197o
  236. Folio+ Box 211: Vols. 202o, 203o
  237. Folio+ Box 212: Vols. 204o, 205o
  238. Folio+ Box 213: Vols. 206o, 207o
  239. Folio+ Box 214: Vols. 208o, 209o
  240. Folio+ Box 215: Vols. 210o, 211o
  241. Folio+ Box 216: Vols. 212o, 213o
  242. Folio+ Box 217: Vols. 214o, 215o
  243. Folio+ Box 218: Vols. 216o, 217o
  244. Folio+ Box 219: Vols. 218o, 219o
  245. Folio+ Box 220: Vols. 220o-222o
  246. Folio+ Box 221: Vols. 223o-227o
  247. Folio+ Box 222: Vols. 228o, 229o
  248. Folio Box 222a: Vols. 230o, 231o
  249. Folio Box 223: Vol. 232o
  250. Folio Box 224: Vol. 233o
  251. Folio Box 225: Vols. 234o-236o
  252. Folio+ Box 225a: Vol. 244o
  253. Folio+ Box 226: Vols. 237o, 241o, 245o
  254. Folio Box 226a: Vol. 247o
  255. Folio Box 226b: Vols. 248o, 249o
  256. Folio Box 226c: Vol. 257o
  257. Carton 227: Vols. 246o, 250o, 251o, 258o
  258. Carton 227a: Vols. 259o-261o
  259. Carton 228: Vols. 262o-264o
  260. Carton 228a: Vols. 265o-267o
  261. Carton 229: Vols. 268o-271o
  262. Carton 299a: Vols. 272o-275o
  263. Carton 230: Vols. 276o-277o
  264. Carton 231: Vols. 278o-280o
  265. Carton 232: Vols. 281o-283o
  266. Carton 232a: Vols. 307o, 312o, 313o
  267. Folio+ Box 232b: Vol. 305o
  268. Folio+ Box 233: Vols. 306o, 309o-311o, 316o
  269. Carton 233a: Vols. 314o, 315o, 317o
  270. Folio+ Box 234: Vol. 320o
  271. Carton 234a: Vols. 318o, 319o, 320ao
  272. Carton 235: Vols. 322o, 324o, 325o
  273. Folio Box 235a: Vol. 331o
  274. Folio+ Box 236: Vols. 329o, 363o-366o, 369o
  275. Folio+ Box 236a: Vol. 345o
  276. Folio+ Box 236b: Vol. 346o
  277. Folio+ Box 236c: Vol. 347o
  278. Folio+ Box 236d: Vol. 348o
  279. Folio+ Box 236e: Vol. 349o
  280. Folio+ Box 236f: Vol. 350o
  281. Folio+ Box 236g: Vol. 351o
  282. Folio+ Box 236h: Vol. 352o
  283. Folio+ Box 236i: Vol. 353o
  284. Folio+ Box 236j: Vol. 354o
  285. Folio+ Box 236k: Vol. 355o
  286. Folio Box 236l: Vols. 356o, 357o
  287. Folio Box 236m: Vol. 358o
  288. Folio Box 236n: Vol. 359o
  289. Folio Box 236o: Vol. 360o
  290. Folio Box 236p: Vols. 361o, 362o
  291. Folio Box 236q: Vols. 371o, 372o
  292. Folio Box 236r: Vol. 373o
  293. Folio+ Box 236s: Vol. 374o
  294. Folio+ Box 236t: Vol. 374ao
  295. Carton 237: Vols. 410o-415o
  296. Folio+ Box 238: Vol. 389o
  297. Folio+ Box 238a: Vol. 389ao
  298. Folio+ Box 238b: Vol. 409o
  299. Folio Box 239: Vol. 416o
  300. Folio+ Box 239a: Vol. 464o
  301. Folio+ Box 240: Vols. 462o
  302. Folio+ Box 240a: Vols. 462ao
  303. Folio+ Box 241: Vols. 463o
  304. Folio+ Box 242: Vol. 465o
  305. Folio+ Box 243: Vol. 466o
  306. Folio+ Box 243a: Vol. 466ao
  307. Folio+ Box 244: Vol. 467o
  308. Folio+ Box 244a: Vol. 468o
  309. Folio+ Box 245: Vol. 469o
  310. Folio+ Box 245a: Vol. 469ao
  311. Folio+ Box 246: Vol. 470o
  312. Folio+ Box 246a: Vols. 471o, 472o
  313. Folio+ Box 247: Vols. 473o-485o
  314. Folio+ Box 248: Vol. 486o
  315. Folio+ Box 249: Vol. 487o
  316. Folio+ Box 249a: Vol. 487ao
  317. Folio+ Box 250: Vols. 488o, 489o
  318. Folio+ Box 251: Vols. 490o-498o
  319. Folio+ Box 251a: Vol. 499o
  320. Folio+ Box 251b: Vol. 500o
  321. Folio+ Box 251c: Vol. 501o
  322. Folio Box 251d: Vol. 502o
  323. Folio+ Box 251e: Vol. 505o
  324. Carton 252: Vols. 506o, 507o, 509o
  325. Folio Box 252a: Vol. 508o
  326. Folio+ Box 253: Vols. 503o, 504o, 509ao
  327. Folio+ Box 253a: Vol. 510o
  328. Folio+ Box 253b: Vol. 511o
  329. Folio+ Box 253c: Vol. 512o
  330. Carton 254: Vols. 514o-517o
  331. Carton 254a: Vols. 518o, 519o
  332. Carton 255: Vols. 520o-522o
  333. Folio Box 255a: Vol. 527o
  334. Folio+ Box 256: Vols. 540o, 540ao, 540bo, 595o, 598o
  335. Box 256a: Vol. 543o
  336. Box 256b: Vol. 546ao
  337. Box 256c: 547o
  338. Carton 257: Vols. 552o-554o, 554ao, 554bo
  339. Carton 258: Vols. 559o-565o
  340. Carton 259: Vols. 566o-572o
  341. Carton 260: Vols. 573o-579o
  342. Carton 261: Vols. 580o-587o
  343. Carton 262: Vols. 588o-594o
  344. Folio+ Box 262a: Vol. 597o
  345. Folio Box 262b: Vol. 599o
  346. Folio+ Box 262c: Vol. 600o
  347. Folio+ Box 263: Series IV: 16cf+, 17f+, 19f+, 25af+, 25bf+, 56af+, 56bf+, 59f+, 60f+, 61f+, 62f+, 62af+, 63f+, 68f+
  348. Folio Box 264: Series IV: 13f, 16af, 16bf, 20f, 21f, 21af, 64f, 65f
  349. Folio Box 265: Series IV: 66af, 66bf, 67f, 69f, 78f, 78af, 79f, 79af, 80f, 84af, 85hf
  350. Folio+ Box 266: Series IV: 76f+, 78bf+, 81f+, 85df+, 85gf+, 85kf+, 85of+, 85pf+, 86f+, 88f+, 89f+, 89af+, 92bf+
  351. Oversize Box 267: Series IV: 3o, 9ao, 9bo, 15o, 16o, 22o, 23o, 24o, 25o, 26o, 27o
  352. Oversize Box 268: Series IV: 84bo, 85o, 85ao, 85bo, 85co, 85eo, 85fo, 85io, 85jo, 85lo, 85mo, 85no, 92ao
  353. Supersize Box 269: Series IV: 52+, 53+, 54+, 55+, 71+, 72+, 75+, 77+
  354. Supersize Box 270: Series IV: 51+, 57+, 70+, 73+, 84+
  355. Folio+ Box 271: Series IV: 12f+, 14f+
  356. Folio Box 272: Series IV: 12af, 18f
  357. Folio Box 273: Series IV: 36bm, 38m, 39m, 41m, 42m, 44m, 45bm, 45cm, 45dm, 46m, 46am, 48m, 50am
  358. Oversize Box 274: Series IV: 83o

Processing Information

Processed: June 1973, June 1974

Updated and additional materials added: May 2015

Updated: 2017

Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company. Records of the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company, 1776-ca.1985 (inclusive), 1859-1968 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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Cambridge MA 02138 USA