Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger
Margaret Higgins Sanger

Sanger in 1922
Born September 14, 1879(1879-09-14)
Corning, New York,
United States
Died September 6, 1966(1966-09-06) (aged 86)
Tucson, Arizona
United States
Occupation Social reformer, sex educator, nurse
Spouse William Sanger (1902–1921)[note 1]
James Noah H. Slee (1922–1943)

Margaret Higgins Sanger (September 14, 1879 – September 6, 1966) was an American sex educator, nurse, and birth control activist. Sanger coined the term birth control, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established Planned Parenthood. Sanger's efforts contributed to the landmark US Supreme Court case which legalized contraception in the United States. Sanger is a frequent target of criticism by the pro-life movement, based primarily upon her racial views and support of eugenics, but she remains an iconic figure for the American reproductive rights movement.

Her early years were spent in New York City, where she associated with social activists such as Upton Sinclair and Emma Goldman. In 1914, prompted by suffering she witnessed due to frequent pregnancies and self-induced abortions, she started publishing a monthly newsletter, The Woman Rebel. Sanger's activism was influenced by the conditions of her youth – her mother had 18 pregnancies in 22 years, and died at age 45 of tuberculosis and cervical cancer.

In 1916, Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, which led to her arrest for distributing information on contraception. Her subsequent trial and appeal generated enormous support for her cause. Sanger felt that in order for women to have a more equal footing in society and to lead healthier lives, they needed to be able to determine when to bear children. She also wanted to prevent back-alley abortions, which were dangerous and usually illegal at that time.

In 1921, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In New York, Sanger organized the first birth control clinic staffed by all-female doctors, as well as a clinic in Harlem with an entirely African-American staff. In 1929, she formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control, which served as the focal point of her lobbying efforts to legalize contraception in the United States. From 1952 to 1959, Sanger served as president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. She died in 1966, and is widely regarded as a founder of the modern birth control movement.



Early life

Sanger with sons Grant and Stuart, c. 1919

Margaret Sanger was born as Margaret Higgins in Corning, New York. Her mother, Anne Purcell Higgins, was a devout Catholic who went through 18 pregnancies (with 11 live births) in 22 years[2] before dying at age 45 of tuberculosis and cervical cancer.[3] Margaret's father, Michael Hennessy Higgins, was an atheist and an activist for women's suffrage and free public education.[4] Sanger was the sixth of eleven children,[5] and spent much of her youth assisting with household chores and caring for her younger siblings.

Sanger's sisters paid the tuition for her to attend Claverack College, a boarding school in Claverack, New York, for two years.[6] She returned home in 1896 following her father's request that she come home to nurse her mother, who died three years later in 1899.[7] Toward the end of the century, the mother of one of her Claverack friends arranged for Sanger to enroll in a nursing program at a hospital in White Plains, an affluent New York City suburb.[8] In 1902, Margaret Higgins married architect William Sanger, and the couple settled in New York City.[9] Margaret Sanger had previously developed tuberculosis as a result of caring for her ill mother and her own overwork, and the Sangers moved to Saranac, New York, in the Adirondacks, for health reasons.[10]

Social activism

In 1912, after a fire destroyed their home in Hastings-on-Hudson, the Sanger family moved back to New York City, where Margaret began working as a nurse in the East Side slums of Manhattan. Margaret and William became immersed in the radical bohemian culture that was then flourishing in Greenwich Village[11] and became involved with local intellectuals, artists, and activists, including John Reed, Upton Sinclair, Mabel Dodge, and Emma Goldman.[11] Starting in 1911 she started writing a series of articles about sexual hygiene entitled "What Every Mother Should Know" and "What Every Girl Should Know" for the socialist magazine New York Call.[note 2][13]

The first issue of The Woman Rebel, March 1914

In 1913, Sanger worked as a nurse in New York's Lower East Side, often with poor women who were suffering due to frequent childbirth and self-induced abortions. Searching for something that would help these women, Sanger visited public libraries, but was unable to find information on contraception.[14] These problems were epitomized in a story that Sanger would later recount in her speeches: while Sanger was working as a nurse, she was called to Sadie Sachs' apartment after Sachs had become extremely ill due to a self-induced abortion. Afterward, Sadie begged the attending doctor to tell her how she could prevent this from happening again, to which the doctor simply gave the advice to remain abstinent. A few months later, Sanger was once again called back to the Sachs' apartment — only this time, Sadie was found dead after yet another self-induced abortion.[15][16] Sanger would sometimes end the story by saying, "I threw my nursing bag in the corner and announced ... that I would never take another case until I had made it possible for working women in America to have the knowledge to control birth." Although Sadie Sachs was possibly a fictional composite of several women Sanger had known, this story marks the time when Sanger began to devote her life to help desperate women before they were driven to pursue dangerous and illegal abortions.[16][17]

In 1914, Sanger launched The Woman Rebel, an eight-page monthly newsletter which promoted contraception using the slogan "No Gods, No Masters."[18][note 3] Sanger, collaborating with anarchist friends, coined the term birth control as a more candid alternative to euphemisms such as family limitation[19] and proclaimed that each woman should be "the absolute mistress of her own body."[20] In these early years of Sanger's activism, she viewed birth control as a free speech issue, and when she started publishing The Woman Rebel, one of her goals was to provoke a legal challenge to the federal anti-obscenity laws which banned dissemination of information about contraception.[21] Sanger also wanted to publish a book that directly described contraceptive options (in contrast to the articles in The Woman Rebel which only indirectly discussed contraception), so she gathered information, much of it from Europe, and published the pamphlet Family Limitation, in direct violation of the Comstock laws.[22] Her goal was fulfilled when she was indicted in August 1914, but the prosecutors focused their attention on The Woman Rebel articles Sanger had written on assassination and marriage, rather than contraception.[23] Afraid that she might be sent to prison without an opportunity to argue for birth control in court, she fled to England under the alias "Bertha Watson" to avoid arrest.[24] While she was in Europe, Sanger's husband distributed a copy of Family Limitation to an undercover postal worker, resulting in a 30 day jail sentence.[11] During her absence, a groundswell of support grew in the United States, and Margaret returned to the United States in October 1915.[25] Noted attorney Clarence Darrow offered to defend Sanger free of charge, but, bowing to public pressure, the government dropped the charges in early 1916.[26]

Birth control movement

This page from Sanger's Family Limitation, 1917 edition, describes a cervical cap.

Some Northwest European countries had more liberal policies towards contraception than the United States at the time, and when Sanger visited a Dutch birth control clinic in 1915, she learned about diaphragms and became convinced that they were a more effective means of contraception than the suppositories and douches that she had been distributing back in the United States. Diaphragms were generally unavailable in the US, so Sanger and others began importing them from Europe, in defiance of US law.[11]

In 1916, Sanger published What Every Girl Should Know, which provided information about such topics as menstruation and sexuality in adolescents. In 1917, she started publishing the monthly periodical The Birth Control Review.[note 4]

On October 16, 1916, Sanger opened a family planning and birth control clinic at 46 Amboy St. in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, the first of its kind in the United States.[27] Nine days after the clinic opened, Sanger was arrested for breaking a New York state law that prohibited distribution of contraceptives, and went to trial in January 1917.[28] Sanger was convicted; the trial judge held that women did not have "the right to copulate with a feeling of security that there will be no resulting conception."[29] Sanger was offered a more lenient sentence if she promised to not break the law again, but she replied: "I cannot respect the law as it exists today."[30] She was sentenced to 30 days in a workhouse.[30] An initial appeal was rejected, but in a subsequent court proceeding in 1918, the birth control movement won a victory when Judge Frederick E. Crane of the New York Court of Appeals issued a ruling which allowed doctors to prescribe contraception.[31] The publicity surrounding Sanger's arrest, trial, and appeal sparked birth control activism across the United States, and earned the support of numerous donors who would provide her with funding and support for future endeavors.[32]

Sanger became estranged from her husband in 1913, and the couple's divorce was finalized in 1921.[33] She had been involved in relationships with Havelock Ellis and H. G. Wells during this period of estrangement.[34] In 1922, Sanger married oil magnate Noah Slee, and she remained married to him until he died in 1943. Slee's fortune helped fund Sanger's activism.[35]

American Birth Control League

Sanger published the Birth Control Review from 1917 to 1929.[note 5]

After WW I, Sanger shifted away from radical politics, and she founded the American Birth Control League (ABCL) in 1921 to enlarge her base of supporters to include the middle class.[36] The founding principles of the ABCL were as follows:[37]

We hold that children should be (1) Conceived in love; (2) Born of the mother's conscious desire; (3) And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health. Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied.

After Sanger discovered that physicians were exempt from the law that prohibited the distribution of contraceptive information to women — provided it was prescribed for medical reasons[11] — she established the Clinical Research Bureau (CRB) in 1923 to exploit this loophole.[38] The CRB was the first legal birth control clinic in the US, and it was staffed entirely by female doctors and social workers.[39] The clinic received funding from the Rockefeller family, which continued to make donations to Sanger's causes in future decades, but generally made them anonymously to avoid public exposure of the family name.[40] In 1922, she traveled to China, Korea, and Japan. In China she observed that the primary method of family planning was female infanticide, and she later worked with Pearl Buck to establish a family planning clinic in Shanghai.[41] Sanger visited Japan six times, working with Japanese feminist Kato Shidzue to promote birth control.[42]

In 1926, Sanger gave a lecture on birth control to the women's auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey.[43] She described it as "one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing," and added that she had to use only "the most elementary terms, as though I were trying to make children understand."[43] Sanger's talk was well-received by the group, and as a result, "a dozen invitations to similar groups were proffered."[43]

In 1928, conflict within the birth control movement leadership led Sanger to resign as the president of the ABCL and take full control of the CRB, renaming it the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau (BCCRB), marking the beginning of a schism in the movement that would last until 1938.[44]

Sanger invested a great deal of effort communicating with the general public. From 1916 onward, she frequently lectured — in churches, women's clubs, homes, and theaters — to workers, churchmen, liberals, socialists, scientists, and upper-class women.[45] She wrote several books in the 1920s which had a nationwide impact in promoting the cause of birth control. Between 1920 and 1926, 567,000 copies of Woman and the New Race and The Pivot of Civilization were sold.[46] During the 1920s, Sanger received hundreds of thousands of letters, many of them written in desperation by women begging for information on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies.[47] Five hundred of these letters were compiled into the 1928 book, Motherhood in Bondage.[48]

Planned Parenthood era

In 1929, Sanger formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control in order to lobby for legislation to overturn restrictions on contraception.[49] That effort failed to achieve success, so Sanger ordered a diaphragm from Japan in 1932, in order to provoke a decisive battle in the courts. The diaphragm was confiscated by the US government, and Sanger's subsequent legal challenge led to a 1936 court decision which overturned an important provision of the Comstock laws which prohibited physicians from obtaining contraceptives.[50] This court victory motivated the American Medical Association in 1937 to adopt contraception as a normal medical service and a key component of medical school curriculums.[51]

Sanger's Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau operated from this New York building from 1930 to 1973.

This 1936 contraception court victory was the culmination of Sanger's birth control efforts, and she took the opportunity, now in her late 50s, to move to Tucson, Arizona, intending to play a less critical role in the birth control movement. In spite of her original intentions, she remained active in the movement through the 1950s.[51]

In 1937, Sanger became chairman of the newly formed Birth Control Council of America, and attempted to resolve the schism between the ABCL and the BCCRB.[52] Her efforts were successful, and the two organizations merged in 1939 as the Birth Control Federation of America.[53][note 6] Although Sanger continued in the role of president, she no longer wielded the same power as she had in the early years of the movement, and in 1942, more conservative forces within the organization changed the name to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a name Sanger objected to because she considered it too euphemistic.[54]

In 1946, Sanger helped found the International Committee on Planned Parenthood, which evolved into the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1952, and soon became the world's largest non-governmental international family planning organization. Sanger was the organization's first president and served in that role until she was 80 years old.[55] In the early 1950s, Sanger encouraged philanthropist Katharine McCormick to provide funding for biologist Gregory Pincus to develop the birth control pill.[56]


Margaret Sanger Square, at the intersection of Mott Street and Bleecker Street

Sanger died of congestive heart failure in 1966 in Tucson, Arizona, at the age of 86, about a year after the event that marked the climax of her 50-year career: the landmark US Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized birth control in the US.[note 7] Sanger is buried in Fishkill, NY next to her sister Nan Higgins and her second husband Noah Slee.[57]

Long after her death, Sanger has continued to be regarded as a leading figure in the battle for American women's rights. Sanger's story has been the subject several biographies, including an award-winning biography published in 1970 by David Kennedy, and is also the subject of several films, including Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story.[58] Sanger's writings are curated by two universities: New York University's history department maintains the Margaret Sanger Papers Project,[59] and Smith College's Sophia Smith Collection maintains the Margaret Sanger Papers collection.[60]

Sanger has been recognized with many important honors. In 1957, the American Humanist Association named her Humanist of the Year. Government authorities and other institutions have memorialized Sanger by dedicating several landmarks in her name, including a residential building on the Stony Brook University campus, a room in Wellesley College's library,[61] and Margaret Sanger Square in New York City's Greenwich Village.[62] In 1993, the Margaret Sanger Clinic — where she provided birth control services in New York in the mid twentieth century — was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.[63] In 1966, Planned Parenthood began issuing its Margaret Sanger Awards annually to honor "individuals of distinction in recognition of excellence and leadership in furthering reproductive health and reproductive rights."[64]

The right-to-life movement frequently condemns Sanger by questioning her fitness as a mother and criticizing her views on race, abortion, and eugenics.[65][66][note 8] In spite of such attacks, Sanger continues to be regarded as an icon for the American reproductive rights movement and woman's rights movement.

Views and opinions


While traveling in Europe in 1914, Sanger met Havelock Ellis, a psychologist who had written extensively on sexuality.[67] Influenced by Ellis, Sanger rejected Freud's view of sexuality, instead adopting Ellis's view that sexuality was a powerful, liberating force.[68] This gave Sanger yet another argument in support of birth control: it would fulfill a critical psychological need by enabling women to fully enjoy sexual relations, free from the fear of an unwanted pregnancy.[69] Sanger also believed that sexuality, along with birth control, should be discussed with more candor.[68]

Sanger wrote that masturbation — both actual and mere fantasizing — was wasteful and harmful. Sanger believed that women had the ability to control their sexual impulses, and should utilize that control to avoid sex outside of relationships marked by "confidence and respect." She believed that exercising such control would lead to the "strongest and most sacred passion."[70]


As part of her efforts to promote birth control, Sanger found common cause with proponents of eugenics, believing that they both sought to "assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit."[71] Sanger was a proponent of negative eugenics, a social philosophy which claims that human hereditary traits can be improved through social intervention. Sanger's eugenic policies included an exclusionary immigration policy, free access to birth control methods and full family planning autonomy for the able-minded, and compulsory segregation or sterilization for the profoundly retarded.[72][73] In her book The Pivot of Civilization, she advocated coercion to prevent the "undeniably feeble-minded" from procreating.[74] Although Sanger supported negative eugenics, she asserted that eugenics alone was not sufficient, and that birth control was essential to achieve her goals.[75][76][77]

In contrast with eugenicists who advocated euthanasia for the unfit,[note 9] Sanger wrote, "we [do not] believe that the community could or should send to the lethal chamber the defective progeny resulting from irresponsible and unintelligent breeding."[78] Similarly, Sanger denounced the aggressive and lethal Nazi eugenics program.[73] In addition, Sanger believed the responsibility for birth control should remain in the hands of able-minded individual parents rather than the state, and that self-determining motherhood was the only unshakable foundation for racial betterment.[75][79]

Complementing her eugenics policies, Sanger also supported restrictive immigration policies. In "A Plan for Peace", a 1932 essay, she proposed a congressional department to address population problems. She also recommended that immigration exclude those "whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race," and that sterilization and segregation be applied to those with incurable, hereditary disabilities.[72][73][80]


W. E. B. Du Bois served on the board of Sanger's Harlem clinic.[81]

Sanger believed that lighter-skinned races were superior to darker-skinned races, but would not tolerate bigotry among her staff, nor any refusal to work within interracial projects.[82] Although Sanger's views on race appear archaic from a modern viewpoint, her contemporaries in the African-American community supported her efforts. In 1929, James H. Hubert, a black social worker and leader of New York's Urban League, asked Sanger to open a clinic in Harlem.[83] Sanger secured funding from the Julius Rosenwald Fund and opened the clinic, staffed with African-American doctors, in 1930. The clinic was directed by a 15-member advisory board consisting of African-American doctors, nurses, clergy, journalists, and social workers. The clinic was publicized in the African-American press and African-American churches, and received the approval of W. E. B. Du Bois, founder of the NAACP.[84] Sanger's work with minorities earned praise from Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1966 acceptance speech for the Margaret Sanger award.[85]

From 1939 to 1942 Sanger was an honorary delegate of the Birth Control Federation of America, which included a supervisory role – alongside Mary Lasker and Clarence Gamble – in the Negro Project, an effort to deliver birth control to poor African Americans.[86] Sanger wanted the Negro Project to include black ministers in leadership roles, but other supervisors did not. To emphasize the benefits of involving black community leaders, she wrote to Gamble "we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." This quote has been used by numerous Sanger detractors, including Angela Davis and the pro-life movement, to support their claims that Sanger was racist.[87] However, according to New York University's Margaret Sanger Papers Project, Sanger, in writing that letter, "recognized that elements within the black community might mistakenly associate the Negro Project with racist sterilization campaigns in the Jim Crow South, unless clergy and other community leaders spread the word that the Project had a humanitarian aim."[88]

Freedom of speech

Sanger supported the cause of free speech throughout her career, with a zeal comparable to her support for birth control. Sanger grew up in a home where iconoclastic orator Robert Ingersoll was admired.[89] During the early years of her activism, Sanger viewed birth control primarily as a free-speech issue, rather than a feminist issue, and when she started publishing The Woman Rebel in 1914, she did so with the express goal of provoking a legal challenge to the Comstock laws banning dissemination of information about contraception.[21] In New York, Emma Goldman introduced Sanger to members of the Free Speech League, such as Edward Bliss Foote and Theodore Schroeder, and subsequently the League provided funding and advice to help Sanger with legal battles.[90]

Over the course of her career, Sanger was arrested at least eight times for expressing her views during a era in which speaking publicly about contraception was illegal.[91] Numerous times in her career, local government officials prevented Sanger from speaking by shuttering a facility or threatening her hosts.[92] In Boston in 1929, city officials under the leadership of James Curley threatened to arrest her if she spoke – so she turned the threat to her advantage and stood on stage, silent, with a gag over her mouth, while her speech was read by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.[93]


Sanger's family planning advocacy always focused on contraception, rather than abortion.[94][note 10] It was not until the mid 1960s, after Sanger's death, that the reproductive rights movement expanded its scope to include abortion rights as well as contraception.[note 11] Sanger was opposed to abortions, both because they were dangerous for the mother, and because she believed that life should not be terminated after conception. In her book Woman and the New Race, she wrote, "while there are cases where even the law recognizes an abortion as justifiable if recommended by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization."[97]

Historian Rodger Streitmatter concluded that Sanger's opposition to abortion stemmed from concerns for the dangers to the mother, rather than moral concerns.[98] However, in her 1938 autobiography, Sanger noted that her opposition to abortion was based on the taking of life: "[In 1916] we explained what contraception was; that abortion was the wrong way  no matter how early it was performed it was taking life; that contraception was the better way, the safer way – it took a little time, a little trouble, but was well worth while in the long run, because life had not yet begun."[99] And in her book Family Limitation, Sanger wrote that "no one can doubt that there are times when an abortion is justifiable but they will become unnecessary when care is taken to prevent conception. This is the only cure for abortions."[100]


Books and pamphlets
  • What Every Mother Should Know – Originally published in 1911 or 1912, based on a series of articles Sanger published in 1911 in the New York Call, which were, in turn, based on a set of lectures Sanger gave to groups of Socialist party women in 1910–11.[101] Multiple editions published through the 1920s, by Max N. Maisel and Sincere Publishing, with the title What Every Mother Should Know, or how six little children were taught the truth .... Online (1921 edition, Michigan State University)
  • Family Limitation – Originally published 1914 as a 16 page pamphlet; also published in several later editions. Online (1917, 6th edition, Michigan State University)
  • What Every Girl Should Know – Originally published 1916 by Max N. Maisel; 91 pages; also published in several later editions. Online (1920 edition); Online (1922 ed., Michigan State University)
  • The Case for Birth Control: A Supplementary Brief and Statement of Facts‎ – May 1917, published to provide information to the court in a legal proceeding. Online (Google Books)
  • Woman and the New Race, 1920, Truth Publishing, forward by Havelock Ellis. Online (Harvard University); Online (Project Gutenberg); Online (Google Books)
  • Debate on Birth Control – 1921, text of a debate between Sanger, Theodore Roosevelt, Winter Russell, George Bernard Shaw, Robert L. Wolf, and Emma Sargent Russell. Published as issue 208 of Little Blue Book series by Haldeman-Julius Co. Online (1921, Michigan State University)
  • The Pivot of Civilization, 1922, Brentanos. Online (1922, Project Gutenberg); Online (1922, Google Books)
  • Motherhood in Bondage, 1928, Brentanos. Online (Google books).
  • My Fight for Birth Control, 1931, New York: Farrar & Rinehart
  • An Autobiography. New York, NY: Cooper Square Press. 1938. ISBN 0-8154-1015-8. 
  • The Woman Rebel – Seven issues published monthly from March 1914 to August 1914. Sanger was publisher and editor.
  • Birth Control Review – Published monthly from February 1917 to 1940. Sanger was Editor until 1929, when she resigned from the ABCL.[102] Not to be confused with Birth Control News, published by the London-based Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress.
Collections and anthologies

See also


  1. ^ They became estranged in 1913, but the divorce was not finalized until 1921.[1]
  2. ^ Sanger wrote two series of articles for the New York Call: "What Every Mother Should Know" (1911–1912) and "What Every Girl Should Know'" (1912–1913). Both were later published in book form.[12]
  3. ^ The slogan "No Gods, No Masters" originated in a flyer distributed by the IWW in the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike.
  4. ^ The first issue of Birth Control Review was published Feb 1917
  5. ^ Caption at the bottom of this 1919 issue reads: "Must She Always Plead in Vain? 'You are a nurse – can you tell me? For the children's sake – help me!'"
  6. ^ Date of merger recorded as 1938 (not 1939) in: O'Conner, Karen, Gender and Women's Leadership: A Reference Handbook, p 743. O'Conner cites Gordon (1976)
  7. ^ In 1965, the case had struck down one of the remaining contraception-related Comstock laws in Connecticut and Massachusetts. However, Griswold only applied to marital relationships. A later case, Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), extended the Griswold holding to unmarried persons as well.
  8. ^ A typical pro-life publication critical of Sanger is: Franks, Angela, Margaret Sanger's eugenic legacy: the control of female fertility, McFarland, 2005
  9. ^ For example, in William Robinson's book, Eugenics, Marriage and Birth Control (Practical Eugenics), Robinson wrote, 'The best thing would be to gently chloroform these [unfit] children or give them a dose of potassium cyanide.'"
  10. ^ For a discussion of Sanger in relation to abortion see: Hitchcock, Susan Tyler, Roe v. wade: protecting a woman's right to choose[95]
  11. ^ Sanger died in 1966, the same year the National Organization for Women was founded and reproductive rights advocates started to strongly campaign for legalized abortion rights, which culminated in the 1973 Roe v Wade supreme court case.[96]


  1. ^ Baker, p 126
  2. ^ Cox, p 4; Steinem, Gloria (1998-04-13). "Time's 100 Most Important People of the Century: Margaret Sanger". Time.,9171,988152,00.html. 
  3. ^ Buchanan, p 121
  4. ^ Rosalind Rosenberg, Divided lives: American women in the twentieth century, p 82; Sanger, Autobiography, p 13.
  5. ^ Cooper, James L.; Cooper, Sheila M. (1973). The Roots of American Feminist Thought. Alvin and Bacon. p. 219. ASIN B002VY8L0O. 
  6. ^ Baker, p 23
  7. ^ The selected papers, Vol 1, p 4
  8. ^ The selected papers, Vol 1, pp 4–5
  9. ^ Baker, pp 33–36
  10. ^ Baker, p 33–38
  11. ^ a b c d e Chesler, Ellen (1992). Woman of valor: Margaret Sanger and the birth control movement in America. New York: Simon Schuster. ISBN 0-671-60088-5. 
  12. ^ Engelman, p 32:
  13. ^ Blanchard, Revolutionary sparks: freedom of expression in modern America , p 50. Baker, p 69. Coates p 49
  14. ^ Endres, Kathleen L., Women's periodicals in the United States: social and political issues, p 448; Endres cites Sanger, An Autobiography, pp 95–96. Endres cites Kennedy, p 19, as pointing out that some materials on birth control were available in 1913.
  15. ^ Lader (1955), pp 44–50
    Baker, pp 49–51
    Kennedy, pp 16–18
  16. ^ a b Viney, Wayne; King, D. A. (2003). A history of psychology: ideas and context. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 0-205-33582-9. 
  17. ^ Composite story: The selected papers of Margaret Sanger, Volume 1, p 185. This source identifies the source of Sanger's quote as: "Birth Control", Library of Congress collection of Sanger's papers: microfilm: reel 129: frame 12, April 1916
  18. ^ Kennedy, pp 1,22.
  19. ^ Sanger, The selected papers of Margaret Sanger, Volume 1, p 70
    Galvin, Rachel. Margaret Sanger's "Deeds of Terrible Virtue" Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities, September/October 1998, Volume 19/Number 5
  20. ^ Engelman, Peter C, "Margaret Sanger", article in Encyclopedia of leadership, Volume 4, George R. Goethals, et al (Eds), SAGE, 2004, p 1382
    Engelman cites facsimile edited by Alex Baskin, Woman Rebel, New York: Archives of Social History, 1976. Facsimile of original.
  21. ^ a b McCann 2010 pp 750–1
  22. ^ Engelman p 34; Rosenbaum, p 252
  23. ^ Engelman, p 43
  24. ^ Baker, p 89
  25. ^ Kennedy, David M. (1970). "3". Birth Control in America. Yale University Press. p. 77. ISBN 0300014953. 
  26. ^ Sanger, Autobiography, pp 183–9
  27. ^ Selected Papers, vol 1, p 199
    Baker, p 115
  28. ^ Engelman, p 101
  29. ^ Lepore, Jill (November 14, 2011). "Birthright: What's next for Planned Parenthood?". New Yorker. Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
  30. ^ a b Cox, p 65
  31. ^ Engelman, pp 101–3
  32. ^ McCann 2010, p 751
  33. ^ Cox, p 76
  34. ^ Chesler, pp 182, 186
  35. ^ Cohen, p 64
  36. ^ Freedman, Estelle B., The essential feminist reader, Random House Digital, Inc., 2007 p 211.
  37. ^ "Birth control: What it is, How it works, What it will do", The Proceedings of the First American Birth Control Conference, Nov 11,12 1921, pp 207–8
    The Birth Control Review, Vol V. Num 12, December 1921, Margaret Sanger (Ed), p 18.
    Sanger, Pivot of Civilization, 2001 reprint edited by Michael W. Perry, p 409
    These principles were adopted at the first meeting of the ABCL in late 1921
  38. ^ Baker, p 196
  39. ^ Baker, pp 196–197
    The Selected Papers, Vol 2, p 54
  40. ^ Chesler, pp 277, 293, 558
    Harr, John Ensor; Johnson, Peter J. (1988). The Rockefeller Century: Three Generations of America's Greatest Family. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 191, 461–62.  — crucial, anonymous Rockefeller grants to the Clinical Research Bureau and support for population control
  41. ^ Cohen, pp 64–5
  42. ^ Baker, p 275
    Katō, Shidzue, Facing two ways: the story of my life, Stanford University Press, 1984, p xxviii
    D'Itri, Patricia Ward, Cross currents in the international women's movement, 1848–1948, Popular Press, 1999pp 163–167
  43. ^ a b c Sanger, Margaret (1938). Margaret Sanger, An Autobiography. New York: W. W. Norton. pp. 361, 366–7. 
  44. ^ McCann (1994), pp 177–8
    "MSPP > About > Birth Control Organizations > Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau". 2005-10-18. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  45. ^ Sanger, Margaret (2004). The Autobiography of Margaret Sanger. Courier Dover Publications. p. 366. ISBN 0486434923. 
  46. ^ Baker p 161
    Cohen, p 63
  47. ^ ""Motherhood in Bondage," #6, Winter 1993/4". Margaret Sanger Papers Project. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
    The number of letters is reported as "a quarter million", "over a million", or "hundreds of thousands" in various sources
  48. ^ 500 letters: Cohen, p 65.
    Sanger, Margaret (2000). Motherhood in bondage. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press. ISBN 0-8142-0837-1. 
  49. ^ NYU Margaret Sanger Papers Project "National Committee on Federal Legislation on Birth Control"
  50. ^ Rose, Melody, Abortion: a documentary and reference guide, ABC-CLIO, 2008, p 29
  51. ^ a b "Biographical Note", Smith College, Margaret Sangers Papers
  52. ^ NYU Margaret Sanger Papers Project "Birth Control Council of America"
  53. ^ The Margaret Sanger Papers (2010 [last update]). "MSPP > About > Birth Control Organizations > PPFA". Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  54. ^ Chesler, p 393
  55. ^ Ford, Lynne E., Encyclopedia of women and American politics, p 406
    Esser-Stuart, Joan E., "Margaret Higgins Sanger", in Encyclopedia of social welfare history in North America, Herrick, John and Stuart, Paul (Eds), SAGE, 2005 p 323
  56. ^ Engelman, Peter, "McCormick, Katharine Dexter", in Encyclopedia of Birth Control, Vern L. Bullough (Ed.), ABC-CLIO, 2001, pp 170–1
    Marc A. Fritz, Leon Speroff, Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010, pp 959–960
  57. ^ Baker, p 307
  58. ^ Choices of the Heart – 1995, starring Dana Delany and Henry Czerny, "'Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story (1995)'". IMDb (The Internet Movie Database). 1995-03-08. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
    Portrait of a Rebel: The Remarkable Mrs. Sanger , TV movie, 1980, starring Bonnie Franklin as Sanger; IMDB
  59. ^ NYU Sanger Papers Project web site
  60. ^ Smith College collection web site
  61. ^ Friends of the Library Newsletter
  62. ^ Kayton, Bruce (2003). Radical Walking Tours of New York City. New York: Seven Stories Press. p. 111. ISBN 1583225544. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  63. ^ National Historic Landmark Program
  64. ^ "Rockefeller 3d Wins Sanger Award". New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2011. 
    "Planned Parenthood Salutes Visionary Leaders in the Fight for Reproductive Freedom." Press release in Business Wire 29 Mar. 2003: 5006. General OneFile. Web. 11 Feb. 2011.
    Lozano, Juan (March 27, 2009). "Clinton champions women's rights worldwide". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved February 14, 2011. 
  65. ^ Marshall, Robert G.; Donovan, Chuck (October 1991). Blessed Are the Barren: The Social Policy of Planned Parenthood. Fort Collins, CO: Ignatius Press. ISBN 0898703530; ISBN 978-0-89870-353-5. 
  66. ^ "Minority Anti-Abortion Movement Gains Steam". NPR. September 24, 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  67. ^ Cox, p 55
  68. ^ a b Chesler, pp 13–14
  69. ^ Chesler
    Kennedy, p 127
  70. ^ Bronski, Michael, A Queer History of the United States, Beacon Press, 2011
    Quotes from Sanger, "What Every Girl should know: Sexual Impulses Part II", in New York Call, Dec 29, 1912; also in the subsequent book What Every Girl Should Know pp 40–48; reprinted in The selected papers of Margaret Sanger, Volume 1, pp 41–5 (quotes on p 45)
  71. ^ Engelman, p 132
  72. ^ a b Porter, Nicole S.; Bothne Nancy; Leonard, Jason (2008-02-01). Evans, Sophie J.. ed. Public Policy Issues Research Trends. Nova Science. p. 126. ISBN 9781600218736. 
  73. ^ a b c "The Sanger-Hitler Equation", Margaret Sanger Papers Project Newsletter, #32, Winter 2002/3. New York University Department of History
  74. ^ Sanger, Pivot, p 181; quoted in Charles Valenza: "Was Margaret Sanger a Racist?" Family Planning Perspectives, January–February 1985, page 44.
  75. ^ a b Sanger, Margaret, "Birth Control and Racial Betterment", Birth Control Review, Feb. 1919, pp 11–12, Online
  76. ^ Franks, Angela (1971). Margaret Sanger's eugenic legacy: the control of female fertility. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7864-2011-7. 
  77. ^ Freedman, Estelle B. (2007). The essential feminist reader. Modern Library. p. 211. 
  78. ^ Black, Edwin (September 2003) [2003]. The War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race. New York City, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows. ISBN 1-56858-258-7. , p 251.
    Sanger's quote from The Pivot of Civilization, p 100
  79. ^ Margaret Sanger. "The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda." Birth Control Review, October 1921, page 5
  80. ^ Sanger, "A Plan For Peace", Birth Control Review, April 1932, p. 106. Online
  81. ^ Baker, p 200
  82. ^ McCann (1994), pp 150–4. Bigotry: p 153.
    See also p 45, The selected papers of Margaret Sanger, Volume 1
  83. ^ Hajo, p. 85
  84. ^ Hajo, p. 85
    From Planned Parenthood: "The Truth about Margaret Sanger". Planned Parenthood Federation of America. :

    In 1930, Sanger opened a family planning clinic in Harlem that sought to enlist support for contraceptive use and to bring the benefits of family planning to women who were denied access to their city's health and social services. Staffed by a black physician and black social worker, the clinic was endorsed by The Amsterdam News (the powerful local newspaper), the Abyssinian Baptist Church, the Urban League, and the black community's elder statesman, W. E. B. Du Bois.

  85. ^ Planned Parenthood Federation of America (2004). "The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Upon Accepting the Planned Parenthood Sanger Award". 
  86. ^ Engelman, p 175
    Birth Control Federation of America, The Margaret Sanger Papers Project
    "Birth Control or Race Control? Sanger and the Negro Project". Margaret Sanger Papers Project Newsletter (Margaret Sanger Papers Project) (28). 2002-11-14. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  87. ^ "Birth Control or Race Control? Sanger and the Negro Project". Margaret Sanger Papers Project Newsletter (Margaret Sanger Papers Project) (28). 2002-11-14. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  88. ^ "Smear n Fear", New York University, History Department, Margaret Sanger Papers Project, 2010, [1]
  89. ^ "The Child Who Was Mother to a Woman" from The New Yorker, April 11, 1925, page 11.
  90. ^ Wood, Janice Ruth (2008), The struggle for free speech in the United States, 1872–1915: Edward Bliss Foote, Edward Bond Foote, and anti-Comstock operations, Psychology Press, 2008, pp 100–102
  91. ^ "Every Child a Wanted Child", Time, Sept 16, 1966, p 96.
  92. ^ Kennedy, p 149
  93. ^ Melody, Michael Edward (1999), Teaching America about sex: marriage guides and sex manuals from the late Victorians to Dr. Ruth, NYU Press, 1999, p 53 (citing Halberstam, David, The Fifties, Villard. 1993, p 285)
    Davis, Tom, Sacred work: Planned Parenthood and its clergy alliances Rutgers University Press, 2005, p 213 (citing A Tradition of Choice, Planned Parenthood, 1991, p 18)
  94. ^ Baker, p 3
  95. ^ Infobase Publishing, 2006, pp 29–35
  96. ^ Engelman, pp 181–5
  97. ^ Margaret Sanger (1920). "Contraceptives or Abortion?". Woman and the New Race. 
  98. ^ Streitmatter, Rodger (2001). Voices of Revolution: The Dissident Press in America. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 169. ISBN 0-231-12249-7. 
  99. ^ Sanger, Margaret (1938). Margaret Sanger, An Autobiography. New York: W. W. Norton. p. 217. 
  100. ^ Gray, p 280, citing 1916 edition: Sanger, Margaret (1917). Family Limitation. p. 5. 
  101. ^ Coates, p 48
    Hoolihan, Christopher (2004), An Annotated Catalogue of the Edward C. Atwater Collection of American Popular Medicine and Health Reform, Vol 2 (M–Z), University Rochester Press, p 299
  102. ^ "Birth Control Review", Margaret Sanger Papers Project, NYU


  • Baker, Jeah H. (2011), Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion, Macmillan
  • Buchanan, Paul D. (2009), American Women's Rights Movement: A Chronology of Events and of Opportunities from 1600 to 2008, Branden Books
  • Chesler, Ellen (1992). Woman of valor: Margaret Sanger and the birth control movement in America. New York: Simon Schuster. ISBN 0-671-60088-5. 
  • Coates, Patricia Walsh (2008), Margaret Sanger and the origin of the birth control movement, 1910–1930: the concept of women's sexual autonomy, Edwin Mellen Press, 2008
  • Cohen, Warren I. (2009), Profiles in humanity: the battle for peace, freedom, equality, and human rights, Rowman & Littlefield
  • Coigney, Virginia (1969), Margaret Sanger: rebel with a cause, Doubleday
  • Cox, Vicki (2004). Margaret Sanger: Rebel For Women's Rights. Chelsea House Publications. ISBN 0791080307. 
  • ‪Engelman‬, ‪Peter C.‬ (2011), ‪A History of the Birth Control Movement in America‬, ‪ABC-CLIO, ISBN 9780313365096
  • Franks, Angela (2005), Margaret Sanger's eugenic legacy: the control of female fertility, McFarland
  • Gordon, Linda (1976). Woman's Body, Woman's Right:A Social History of Birth Control in America. New York: Grossman Publishers. 
  • Gray, Madeline (1979). Margaret Sanger: A Biography of the Champion of Birth Control. New York City, NY: Richard Marek Publishers. ISBN 0-399-90019-5. 
  • Hajo, Cathy Moran (2010), Birth Control on Main Street: Organizing Clinics in the United States, 1916–1939, University of Illinois Press ISBN 9780252035364
  • Kennedy, David (1970). Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger. Yale University Press. 
  • Lader, Lawrence (1955), The Margaret Sanger Story and the Fight For Birth Control, Doubleday. Reprinted in Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1975 ISBN 9780837170763.
  • Lader, Lawrence and Meltzer, Milton (1969), Margaret Sanger: pioneer of birth control, Crowell
  • McCann, Carole Ruth (1994), Birth control politics in the United States, 1916–1945 , Cornell University Press
  • McCann, Carole Ruth (2010), "Women as Leaders in the Contraceptive Movement", in Gender and Women's Leadership: A Reference Handbook, Karen O'Connor (Ed), SAGE
  • Rosenbaum, Judith (2010), "The Call to Action: Margaret Sanger, the Brownsville Jewish Women, and Political Activism", in Gender and Jewish History, Marion A. Kaplan, Deborah Dash Moore (Eds), Indiana University Press, 2010.
  • Viney, Wayne; King, D. A. (2003). A history of psychology: ideas and context. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 0-205-33582-9. 

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