Pinkham, Lydia E.
Lydia Estes Pinkham (February 9, 1819 – May 17, 1883) created a self-titled patent medicine and became a shrewd marketer of a commercially successful herbal-alcoholic "women's tonic" meant to relieve menstrual and menopausal pains.
Like many women of her time Lydia Pinkham brewed home remedies. Her remedy for "female complaints" became very popular among her neighbors to whom she gave it away, at first.
Lydia Pinkham was born in the manufacturing city of Lynn, Massachusetts, the tenth of the twelve children of William and Rebecca Estes. The Estes were an old Quaker family tracing their ancestry to one William Estes, a Quaker who migrated to America in 1676.
It is reputed to have been her son Daniel who came up with the idea, in 1875, of making a family business of the remedy. Lydia initially made the remedy on her stove before its success enabled production to be transferred to a factory. She answered letters from customers and probably wrote most of the advertising copy. Mass marketed from 1876 on, Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound became one of the best known patent medicines of the 19th century. Descendants of this product are still available today. Lydia's skill was in marketing her product directly to women, and her company continued her shrewd marketing tactics after her death. Her own face was on the label and her company was particularly keen on the use of testimonials from grateful women.
Lydia's vegetable compound had 5 medicinal herbs, such as fenugreek and black cohosh, as well as alcohol, which relieved muscle aches and acted as a pain killer.
The Lydia E.Pinkham Memorial building at 264 New Derby Street in Salem was erected in 1922 for Mrs. Aroline C. Gove in memory of her mother, Lydia E. Pinkham. Established to serve as a baby clinic and headquarters for health agencies, today it serves as a well baby clinic that gives free vaccinations.
Vertical File in Salem Collection - Pinkham, Lydia
Lydia E. Pinkham Memorial Historic Buildings of Massachusetts
Architecture in Salem B. Tolles, p. 52-3