The Visible Woman

Grade Range: 6-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Sources
Date Posted: 10/27/2008

This is an anatomical model of a woman, complete with removable parts. The kit includes a clear plastic body or shell, a "complete" skeleton, "all vital organs," and a round plastic display stand. The kit was designed as an educational tool to teach basic anatomy. The intructions explain how to assemble and disassemble the model. The "Visible Woman" was inspired by the success of another anatomical model for children, "The Visible Man." The kit includes a pamphlet, "Introduction to Anatomy," and the manufacturer's guarantee. This kit was never assembled.

One of the more interesting features or non-features of this kit is the lack of genitalia. Manufacturers of anatomical models offered male and female models with and without sexual organs. Americans in the 19th century used phrases such as "after nature" and "organs of generation" to gently refer to reproductive organs. This practice continued well into the 20th century, when paper models and later plastic model kits produced for the general public lacked sexual organs.

A note to parents in the lower left corner of the top of the box warned that the contents included the "Optional Feature: The Miracle of Creation." Separated from the other parts of the model in a brown box, the adapter kit for a 7-months pregnant female includes special instructions for assembling the eight additional parts, which include an expanded breast plate for the prgnant uterus, the small intestines, and the fetus.