Pinkham, Lydia E.

Pinkham, Lydia E. (Estes)

(1819–83) manufacturer; born in Lynn, Mass. A young schoolteacher in Lynn, she became a member of the Female Anti-Slavery Society and a lifelong friend of Frederick Douglass; she took up various causes including temperance, phrenology, and Grahamism until 1843, when she married Isaac Pinkham. In 1875 Isaac went broke speculating on real estate and Lydia began selling an herbal remedy she had concocted called "Mrs. Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound." The remedy was registered in 1876 with the U.S. Patent Office and she herself marketed it with her own advertisements. She did not live long enough to see it achieve its phenomenal success, but for some 50 years it was one of the most popular "patent medicines" in America. It was promoted especially for "women's weakness," but the American Medical Association dismissed all its claims as fraudulent.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.