Jersey leads the way: family planning is part of life

Excavations, local traditional costumes, famous sons and daughters, acts of war, old postcards, customs and folk songs, daily life and festivals…these are the usual ingredients of a museum of local history.

All this can also be seen in the museum of local history in St Helier, the capital of the channel island Jersey. But there’s more: gathered in a beautiful old cabinet are medicines, herbal teas and other remedies used to preserve or restore health. Conspicuous among them is a red cardboard box on which is printed “Whirling Syringe.” The instructions for use say that, thanks to its “specially constructed mount of ingenious movement”, “all foreign matters are thoroughly cleansed and expelled” from the vagina. It is, in fact, a means of contraception! Enclosed alongside it are soluble quinine tablets of a “pre-wartime quality” and “waverlube jelly”, which was supposed to prevent sperm from travelling up when using mechanical forms of contraception (such as diaphragms, cervical caps or sponges).


It is not only in this museum where the island of Jersey, with its 100,000 inhabitants, has an uncomplicated way of addressing the issue of family planning. This is the case in every one of its 33 pharmacies as well. Even from afar, it is possible to read what special offers are available: in addition to smoking cessation counselling, blood pressure monitoring, travel medicine and flu vaccinations, “emergency contraception” – that is, the morning-after pill – also features. To get hold of it, one only needs to answer a few questions relating to the length of one’s cycle and contraceptive habits.


We would like to thank Val Nelson, Senior Registrar at Jersey Heritage, for her help and for providing the photographs.