Removes All Obstacles: Abortifacients in Nineteenth-Century Toronto and Beyond

International Journal of Historical Archaeology, Vol. 20 no. 4 (2016)
Andrea Carnevale, Denise McGuire and Johanna Kelly
International Journal of Historical Archaeology

Exploring the biographies of small artifacts from archaeological contexts is an endeavour that can expose unrealized or forgotten historical and cultural meaning at local, regional, national, and international levels. The recovery of a small glass bottle embossed with the name “Sir J. Clarke’s Female Pills” from a site in Toronto has drawn together the production history and advertising during the nineteenth century of a patent medicine product classed as an abortifacient. Furthermore, it connects the history of women’s health and fertility rights to the social and economic motivations influencing control over family planning.