Menovulography / Anna Oravecz / Part I

 

 

 

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On August 17, 1914, in Portage, Pennsylvania, Anna Edna Oravecz turned 12. This was less than three weeks after the outbreak of World War I, and the same day that Russian troops invaded East Prussia.

 

 

Then, a few months after Anna turned 13, her mother gave birth to a baby girl.  The 13-year-old Anna now had three sisters and two brothers:  Steve, Emily, Helen, August and Pauline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anna Edna Oravecz, 1910s

My Slovak-American grandmother

 

 

 

Anna’s Slovak parents “realized the future was better in America.”  What did this “better future” mean for the young Anna? It had meant dropping out in the sixth grade to work in the family store. This store served the local mining community. 

 

All of the sisters had to drop out; none of them wanted to. But the parents didn’t believe girls needed to be educated.

 

 

‘Stephan Oravecz, Slovensky Mesar, Meat Market,’ circa 1920. L-to-R: Unidentified; Helen Oravecz; Stephan Oravecz, father.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elementary school drop-out; oldest daughter; and perhaps having a mother too busy with other things.  Did Anna have questions about puberty, without anyone to ask?

 

But, working in a store, it may be she’d had access to menstrual products that girls from mining families didn’t, such as the Sant-Kerchiefs to the left, manufactured in Easton, Pennsylvania, only about 100 miles or so from Portage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in Europe, World War I was raging, and battlefield nurses were beginning to use Cellucotton bandages as sanitary napkins. Cellucotton is a cellulose-derived product, more absorbent than cotton. Cellucotton was also used as a filter in gas masks.

 

 

It’s likely that a number of nurses got the idea for this technology transfer (that is, from bandage to sanitary napkin), rather than just one nurse getting the idea. What do you think?

 

Cellucotton wrapper, probably 1940s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Anna Oravecz went through puberty, giving and getting were all mixed up, all over the world:

 

By the millions, soldiers were getting wounded, often giving their lives.

 

Battlefield nurses gave medical care, and got their periods; some of them even got the idea for a technology transfer.

 

Anna’s 36-year-old mother gave birth for the seventh and final time, while Anna got her period for the first of hundreds of times.

 

Anna and her sisters gave up formal education, but got a different kind of education, in the family store.

 

Unkown Soldier, 369th Infantry Regiment

Photo courtesy NY State Military Museum

 

 

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MOLTXPLORATION:

 

Women and technology transfer: Find examples of other women engaged in technology transfer. What are the earliest examples you can find? The latest?

 

MOLTXPERIMENT:

 

1.  Select an item that you use every day.

2.  Identify the technologies involved in creating, manufacturing and distributing that item.

3. Transfer some or all of the technologies involved to an entirely new item, of your own creation.

 

 

Mission Statement / Critique of the Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health:
Why do we need another museum of this kind?

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