Family Planning and the Long Eighteenth‐Century Pocketbook

Helen Williams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


Eighteenth‐century medical literature recommended that women record their menstrual cycles to identify dates of conception, measure gestation, and predict delivery. Women's pocketbooks were natural repositories of such pregnancy‐related data. This article charts the history of women's pocketbooks providing printed affordances for menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth. Throughout the eighteenth century, women's printed pocketbooks were self‐conscious of, and began to make more obvious, their potential to assist the safe delivery of children. The first mass‐produced tool for predicting childbirth, Anton F.A. Desberger's Schwangerschaftskalender (1827), translated into English as the Marriage Almanack in 1835, presupposed a female readership familiar with women's pocketbooks' self‐conscious capacity to assist family planning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-133
Number of pages21
JournalJournal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Issue number1
Early online date23 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


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