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In May 1960, the FDA approved a prescription drug that would permanently alter the course of women's lives: the birth control pill. After decades of research and activism, women could now determine their own reproductive and professional lives. But this autonomy came at a cost. The initial pill proved injurious to some women, prompting Congressional hearings and public outcry that launched the women's health movement. Learn more about this object that changed the world, the family, the workplace, and women's role in public life in this interactive talk.


‍Kimberly Hamlin is Associate Professor of History and Global and Intercultural Studies. Her most recent book Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener (W.W. Norton) tells the fascinating story of the “fallen woman” who reinvented herself and became “the most potent factor” in Congressional passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and the highest-ranking woman in federal government. This project received both the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Public Scholar Award and the Carrie Chapman Catt Award for Research on Women and Politics. She writes frequently for the Washington Post.

Objects that Changed the World is a new collaboration between the Miami University Humanities Center and the Alumni Association. Featuring Miami’s nationally recognized faculty in the humanities, each lecture is inspired by an object of such prevalence today it might be easily overlooked and develops original insights and novel lessons about the object in question. We invite all alumni to reconnect with faculty and to show their support for the Humanities Center’s mission to advocate for the central place of the humanities in both the university and wider society. 

To donate and become a Friend of the Humanities Center, click here.


  • Susan Gray

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Register for this lecture here. Please reach out to J.J. Slager,, with questions.