‘This Mysterious Little Book’, The Marriage Almanack (1835): Family Planning and the Long Eighteenth-Century Pocketbook

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Abstract

In 1835 a ‘mysterious little book’ was reviewed in both medical journals and women’s magazines: Dr Anton F.A. Desberger’s The Marriage Almanack; or Ladies’ Perpetual Calendar (1835). The Marriage Almanack featured advice and monthly charts for pregnant women, helping each user to work out the expected date of a baby’s delivery from conception and quickening. Drawing from eighteenth-century medical literature that recommended that women record their menstrual cycles to identify dates of conception, measure gestation, and predict delivery, this article looks to women’s pocketbooks of the long eighteenth century as important precursors to the Marriage Almanack, being potential repositories for the data essential to this exercise of recording. This article argues that throughout the eighteenth century, women’s printed pocketbooks were self-conscious of, and further developed, their potential to assist the safe delivery of children. With the Marriage Almanack, the first mass-produced print tool for predicting baby due dates, Dr Schloss and his editor drew upon the existing capacity of women’s pocketbooks to assist family planning.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Aug 2022

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