Digital Project Proposal and Annotated Bibiliography

Ruth Curran

History 471

September 21, 2023

Digital Research Project Proposal: Tranquilizer Marketing Strategies for Women 1950-1970

This digital research project will explore how tranquilizer drugs were marketed to women and why the marketing strategies were effectively reaching their female clientele from the early 1950s to 1970. This project will provide insight into women’s lives and the reasons these drugs became so popular for women in this period. Advertisements and articles from this period will be used to investigate the strategies used to reach women as well as just how prevalent the idea of tranquilizer use was in this period. Advertisements show that Americans are experiencing curiosity for the new, anxiety about the Cold War, and the desire to have things that make them more comfortable. Eye-catching advertisements with the word “Tranquilizer” designed for products are useful in understanding the role of purchasing something to feel fulfilled and comfortable. Testimonials from women using tranquilizers in papers and magazines give insight into what women’s understanding of these drugs were at the time. Andrea Tone’s book The Age of Anxiety will give key information on the differences in the uses between men and women as well as historical background and the use of advertisements in drug sales. The article Frances Oldham Kelsey. FDA Medical Reviewer Leaves Her Mark on HistoryFDA Consumer. Is useful in this project for understanding the boundaries some drug companies were willing to cross to sell their product. Articles from the 1960s such as Looking at Young Wives with Brains by Edwin Diamond gives valuable insight into women’s lives and how culture viewed their dissatisfaction. Hidden in Plain Sight written by Jeremy Greene is useful in understanding how drug companies slipped through the advertising regulations and how advertising to the general public was done more discreetly than advertising to the doctors themselves.

Ruth Curran

History 471

September 21, 2023

Annotated Bibliography

Digital Research Project: Tranquilizer Marketing Strategies for Women 1950-1970

Bren, L. Frances Oldham Kelsey. FDA Medical Reviewer Leaves Her Mark on HistoryFDA Consumer. Vol. 35. United States: Superintendent of Documents, 2001. Linda Bren, who writes articles for the FDA consumer, details the story of Frances Oldham Kelsey who worked for the FDA and is known for blocking a dangerous tranquilizer drug from the company Merrell in the US. The story here describes France’s work and qualifications and highlights the highly driven aspect from drug companies to get their product on the market for the public. This publication is from 2001, preceding some other key books and articles such as Age of Anxiety by Andrea Tones. This article also takes a bit of a different approach to the discussion of anxiety medicine by detailing specifically the story of Frances Kelsey.

Bound, Fay. “Keywords in the History of Medicine: Anxiety.” The Lancet (British Edition) 363, no. 9418 (2004): 1407–. A brief article by Fay Bound Ph.D, a Professor of Modern History at Kings College London, discussing how and when the term “Anxiety” came to be used and popularized. The author argues that the term “anxiety” to describe a physical response to feelings of uneasiness begins to be used in the 17th century. Published in 2004, shortly before Andrea Tone’s book Age of Anxiety in 2008 where she deep dives into the history of anxiety and medications used in the US, this article serves as a brief background to understanding the use of the term “anxiety” in the US.

Branch, Hardin, Charles .H. Aspects of Anxiety. Philadelphia, Lippincott 1968. Accessed September 11, 2023 Aspects of Anxiety written by Charles H. Hardin Branch in 1968 gives insight into how anxiety was viewed in this period as well as how it was understood and studied. The differences in anxiety between men and women are detailed and various forms of anxiety disorders and treatments are discussed. This book may aid in understanding more about what was believed about anxiety in women during this period and how this was approached from a treatment perspective which is important to understand for analyzing marketing strategies.

Brinkley, David. “Segment 3 (Women, Moods, and RX Drugs) # 498936.” Vanderbuilt News Archive. Accessed September 11, 2023. NBC evening news broadcast with reporter David Brinkley where in this segment he reports on the higher rate of women addicted to “legal drugs”, which include tranquilizers like valium, than men. While this broadcast does not happen until 1978, it shows the progression of abuse with tranquilizers after regulation of the drugs which begins much earlier and where the current use of the tranquilizers leads.

Brill, Abraham, Signund, Freud. Selected Papers on Hysteria and Other Psychoneuroses. NY: The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing Company 1912. Accessed September 11, 2023. Written by Freud who was one of the first psychologists whose theories were widely used and understood prior to the period in the 1950s. Although other thoughts and methods for treatment of anxiety are prevalent by the 1950s, understanding the Freudian concepts of women and anxiety can aid in understanding the method of marketing directed at women and why it was successful. 

Coontz, Stephanie. The Way We Never Were : American Families and the Nostalgia Trap. Revised and updated edition, 2016 edition. New York: Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Book Group, 2016. Historian Stephanie Coontz details the history of the American family from a social perspective from 1900-1990 in this text. She pulls out details from the past that argue that much of the past is full of unpleasant memories. Sections of this book discuss women’s lives and participation in the workforce in the 1940s-1980. Women and their work either in the workforce or within the household has been considered by some scholars to be correlated with the use of tranquilizer drugs. The book also refers to the supposed reasons for anxiety in women in the 1950s which is tied back to the Freudian idea seen in Selected Papers on Hysteria and Other Psychoneuroses about reasons for anxiety in women. This is important to understand when examining how companies marketed their tranquilizers to their female clientele. 

Classified Ad 7 — no Title.” 1958.Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Feb 11, 1-a15.  Advertisement in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1958 referencing Miltown. While not directly Related to the sale of Miltown, this reference to Miltown as something a woman might take due to working an unfulfilling job aids in understanding the public view of tranquilizers at this time.

Diamond, Edwin. “Looking at Young Wives with Brains.” Newsweek 55, (1960): 94-95. Accessed September 11, 2023. Edwin Diamond, who was a reporter that wrote articles for Newspapers, brings to light in his entry in 1960 Newsweek a perspective that argues that women should be content with their place in society yet they are increasingly unhappy. He questions the growing dissatisfaction among young married women and his perspective is insightful as to the cultural view of women at the time. Women’s responses to his post show different opinions from women and give insight into their lives and desired changes. Understanding women’s position in society aids in understanding who and what kind of women tranquilizers were being marketed to.

Greene, Jeremy A. “Hidden in Plain Sight Marketing Prescription Drugs to Consumers in the Twentieth Century”. Am J Public Health (May 2010), 793-803. Accessed September 11, 2023. Jeremy A. Greene M.D. Ph.D. Is a Professor of the History of Medicine at John Hopkins University. This article argues ways that drug companies have marketed to the general public and drawn interest from the general public in their products in ways that were not incredibly obvious. Published in 2010, close to the publishing dates of Age of Anxiety by Andrea Tone and Keywords in the History of Medicine: Anxiety by Fay Bound, it is a significant contribution to the understanding of anxiety and tranquilizers in the mid to late 1900s.

HOUCK, JUDITH A. “‘What Do These Women Want?’: Feminist Responses to ‘Feminine Forever’, 1963-1980.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 77, no. 1 (2003): 103–32.  Many advertisements directed towards women for tranquilizers appeal to their status within society and their cultural role. This article written by Judith Houck, a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, looks at a couple of different books written in the 1960s to argue the standards for ideal femininity in this period. This aids in understanding more about the women that the marketing companies were attempting to appeal to with the sale of tranquilizers.

Lutz, Tom. American Nervousness, 1903 : an Anecdotal History. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991. This book written by Historian Tom Lutz, argues where the created ideals for men and women come from and how behavioral type therapy was implemented based on gender prior to the creation of tranquilizer drugs. Marketing companies are appealing to women in the mid to late 1900s who were looking to escape their cultural role which had been set for some time. The book was written in the same period as The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz which is coming from a social history approach in regards to gender and family to gain an understanding of women’s roles in society.

LOPEZ-MUNOZ, Francisco, Cecilio ALAMO, and Pilar GARCIA-GARCIA. “The Discovery of Chlordiazepoxide and the Clinical Introduction of Benzodiazepines: Half a Century of Anxiolytic Drugs.” Journal of Anxiety Disorders 25, no. 4 (2011): 554–62. This article details research and creation of some of the first tranquilizers intended to treat anxiety. A core understanding of what these drugs are, when they were produced, and how they were used is important in a marketing context to understand what the tranquilizers are and who might use them. Written in 2011, just after Hidden in Plain Site by Jeremy A. Greene, this also contributes to the understanding of the emergence of anxiety medications. 

Metzl, Jonathan. Prozac on the Couch : Prescribing Gender in the Era of Wonder Drugs. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003. Metzl, Jonathan. Prozac on the Couch : Prescribing Gender in the Era of Wonder Drugs. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003. This book by Jonathan Metzl, an American psychiatrist, pulls together the history of popularly used tranquilizer drugs and ties the reasons for their uses together with the Freudian concepts of anxiety. Advertisements geared towards women are often geared towards putting them back where much of society wants them and this book aids with the understanding of how culture is viewing anxiety in women. 

Metzl, Jonathan M. “‘Mother’s Little Helper’: The Crisis of Psychoanalysis and the Miltown Resolution.” Gender & History 15, no. 2 (2003): 228–55. Accessed September 11, 2023 This article by Jonathan Metzle, an American Psychiatrist, outlines the history of creating the tranquilizer drugs as well as the period that the benzodiazepines became incredibly popular as a drug. The author argues that, in reference to women, this drug was used to help women fit back in the box of motherhood and monotony she was supposedly intended to fulfill. Understanding the purpose of these tranquilizers aids in understanding the way in which they were marketed towards women.

Tone, Andrea. The Age of Anxiety : A History of America’s Turbulent Affair with Tranquilizers. 1st ed. New York: Basic Books, 2008. This book begins with a brief history of anxiety before tranquilizers were used and covers in detail the initial marketing and sales of the first tranquilizers up until the FDA begins to put more regulations and rules on their sales and uses. Andrea Tone, Ph.D. Is a historian who has done extensive research that has been accessible to the general public in historical uses of medicine. In The Age of Anxiety she argues the different reasons for Tranquilizer use for men and women as well as significant background information on the Cold war which she ties together as a source of extreme anxiety in America. This book is written in 2008 which is after Fay Bound’s brief article about about the history of the word “anxiety”. 

SYLVIA HARTMAN, J.A., M.D.G., Emily Fishman, VARDA ONE, ANN, Madeline Belkin, et al. “Everywoman.” Everywoman 1, no. 1 (4) (July 10, 1970). This advertisement for Valium by Roche Laboratories featured in Everywoman in 1970 demonstrates how tranquilizer drugs could be introduced to women through reading. This also highlights the importance of seeing how the companies selling the drugs were using these tactics to target their intended audience and make sales. 

Shorter, Edward. A Historical Dictionary of Psychiatry. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. A dictionary written by Edward Shorter, a Historian and Professor, useful for understanding terms and different tranquilizer drugs. Information about each drug is useful in understanding what it was used for and how it was created and marketed. 

Tone, Andrea, and Elizabeth Siegel Watkins. Medicating Modern America. NY: NYU Press 2007. Accessed September 11, 2023. Historian Andrea Tone Ph.D. And History Professor Elizabeth Siegel Watkins detail many different medications, their origins, and their uses in America. Tranquilizers are discussed in detail as well as the argument that marketing was an essential part of the success of the sale of the drugs. Published in 2007, contributing to the understanding of the origins and types of medications on the market in America, this book aids in the understanding of marketing tranquilizers.

Tone, Andrea. “Listening to the Past: History, Psychiatry, and Anxiety.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry—In Review 50, no.7 (June 2005): 373-80. Accessed September 11, 2023.  Historian Andrea Tone discusses the history of anxiety and why anxiety medications became popular when they did. This article increases understanding of when tranquilizers came on to the market, what they were used for, and how they were categorized. This article is written prior to Andrea Tone’s book Age of Anxiety and contributes to the overall understanding of when treatments for anxiety became available.

Woloch, Nancy. Women and the American Experience. 3rd ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2000. Nancy Woloch covers history pertaining to women and argues some of the reasons for society’s fear of change within women. This is relevant to the study of the marketing of tranquilizer drugs to women as they are designed and marketed for women to find peace in their current role which is what culture deems acceptable rather than to promote change.

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