Science Café Cleveland presents


"Cloaking Cupids Arrow: contraception and reproductive science"


FEBRUARY 14, 2011




James M. Edmonson, Phd

(Chief Curator of the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum of Case Western Reserve University)




Anthony P. Tizzano, MD

(Practicing Obstetrician and Medical Director of The Cleveland Clinic Family Health Center of Wooster)




We’re hard wired for sex, but are also about the only species that desires to control its fertility.  In this Science Cafe, Jim Edmonson and Tony Tizzano will look at the history and science of birth control. Jim, curator of the world’s largest collection of historic contraceptive devices at Case, will show that Victorians weren’t prudes and really wanted to know more about sexuality, and ways to limit their offspring.  But reform-minded do-gooder Anthony Comstock criminalized contraception across the United States in 1873. Jim will explore the causes and consequences of the Comstock era of sexual prohibition.  Tony, an obstetrician, will look at the evolution of contraceptive science and medicine's quest to exert control over our ability to reproduce.  From Dr. Condom's penile sheath in the 16th century to the intrauterine systems of the 21st century the goal has remained the same, thwart the potential for pregnancy resulting from the world-wide release of approximately 1.5 trillion human spermatozoa each and every second.




James M. Edmonson is Chief Curator of the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum of Case Western Reserve University.  A graduate of the College of Wooster, he received an MA and PhD in the history of technology at the University of Delaware.  Since becoming Curator at the Dittrick Museum in 1981 he has written on medical technology, authoring Nineteenth Century Surgical Instruments (1986) and American Surgical Instruments (1997). His most recent publication is Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine, 1880-1930 (Blast Books, 2009), co-authored with John Harley Warner (Yale).


In 2004 Jim secured the donation of the Percy Skuy Collection on the History of Contraception, the largest collection of its kind in North America.  The Skuy Collection has since been a major focus of the Dittrick’s endeavors, culminating in the exhibit “Virtue, Vice, and Contraband: A history of contraception in America,” opened in September 2009.  He is working on a companion book project, an illustrated history of contraception, and is developing a major gallery installation on the history of childbirth.


Anthony P. Tizzano, MD, is Medical Director of The Cleveland Clinic Family Health Center – Wooster and a practicing obstetrician.  Dr.Tizzano graduated from The Ohio State University in 1988 and then completed a residency in OB/GYN in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, he has conducted research on the history of pelvic surgery and contraception, and lectures on contemporary hormonal contraception methods.  Dr. Tizzano serves as consultant to the Dittrick Museum, and is a collector of books and instrumentation relating to the history of gynecology, childbirth, and midwifery.  He is on the incoming class of the Board of Trustees of the Cleveland Medical Library Association.




WHERE: The Tasting Room at Great Lakes Brewing Company

(Located at 2701 Carroll Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44113)


WHEN: February 14, 2011

Drinks at 6:30 pm, discussion starts around 7:00 pm


WHO: Sponsored by Case Western Reserve University chapter of Sigma Xi, WCPN ideastream, and Great Lakes Brewing Company



Click here to download a pdf of event flyer