Web Exhibit Marks 25th Anniversary of Pregnancy Test Kit

Posted: January 7, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Women don’t really think much about the home pregnancy test until they need to use it. But this little kit was a revolutionary product for culture and society, allowing women the independence and privacy of knowing whether or not they were pregnant even before their doctor knew. Now, with the test in its 25th year on the market, the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason is working with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on a new web exhibit dedicated to the history of the home pregnancy test kit.

A Thin Blue Line: The History of the Pregnancy Test Kit includes a historical timeline of pregnancy testing, a look at the portrayal of the test in popular culture, and scientific background on the research that led to the development of the test. CHNM is collecting personal stories and narratives about experiences with the home pregnancy test. As part of the ECHO: Exploring and Collecting History Online project, all personal stories about the home pregnancy test will be collected and archived for future students and scholars, in the same way that CHNM’s September 11 Digital Archive collected personal accounts. Anyone with a story to tell can fill out the survey created by staff at CHNM. Participants can choose to remain anonymous.

“We are tremendously excited to be working with the National Institutes of Health to document this important history online,” said Dan Cohen, visiting assistant professor in the Department of History and Art History and director of the ECHO project. “The home pregnancy kit is one of many unheralded accomplishments of NIH research and a fascinating part of the history of medicine and the social history of postwar America.”

Since 1994, CHNM’s work has been recognized with major awards and grants from the American Historical Association, the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Department of Education, and the Sloan, Rockefeller, Gould, Delmas, and Kellogg Foundations.

Write to at