Marie Stopes: Eugenics, Feminism and Birth Control

Wellcome Collection, London
17 November 2022

Join medical historian Claire Jones and curator Nora Heidorn as they discuss the "Prorace" cap, a contraceptive promoted by Dr Marie Stopes during the 1920s. Stopes is remembered as a feminist poineer who made birth control accessible to thousands of British women. Stopes wanted to help women to gain control of their reproductive lives, but she also used her birth control campaign to advocate for eugenics, a pseudo-scientific theory that proposed to improve the genetic stock of human populations by discouraging the "unfit" from having babies. In this talk, Claire and Nora will share insights into their respective historical and interdisciplinary research on Marie Stopes' contraceptives. Expect to learn about the business and marketing of birth control in the 1920s, to hear voices from ordinary people asking Stopes for sex advice, and to explore a 3D scan of the "Prorace" cap in an interactive digital work.

The talk was organised and chaired by Daniel Rees. 

A recording of the talk is available on the Youtube channel of Wellcome Collection.