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Margaret Sanger

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Margaret Sanger

 

 

 

Born: Margaret Louise Higgins on 14 September, 1879 Corning, New York

 

Her free-thinking father's politics might have ignited her activism, but watching the process of her mother, aged 50 years, die after 18 pregnancies probably had an even deeper impact. Higgins was a nursing student in 1902 when she married architect William Sanger. Although weakened by bouts of tuberculosis, she bore three children between 1902 and 1910. The Sangers immersed themselves in the radical political and intellectual world of Greenwich Village in New York City. She worked as a visiting nurse in the city's tenements and wrote about sex education and women's health.

In 1914, Sanger's articles in The Woman Radical brought her a federal indictment for violating federal postal obscenity laws, prompting her to flee to England. As soon as the ship left U.S. waters, she cabled a radical publisher in New Jersey to distribute 100,000 copies of her pamphlet, Family Limitation. Sanger remained exiled in Europe until late 1915; William Sanger had been arrested and jailed for distributing one copy of Family Limitation, and Margaret Sanger returned to face the charges against her.

Rather than backing away from controversy, Sanger and her sister Ethel Byrne, also a nurse, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, modeled after those Sanger had seen in Holland. On October 16, 1916, dozens of Jewish and Italian immigrant women from Brooklyn's crowded Brownsville section lined up to receive counseling and birth control information. Nine days later police closed the clinic and arrested Sanger, Byrne, and the clinic's interpreter. Byrne was tried and convicted first, and went on a hunger strike. Sanger was convicted and served 30 days in jail. Legal failure had brought victory, however. The publicity surrounding Sanger's activities had made birth control a matter of public debate.

After World War I, Sanger continued her U.S. leadership role, although during the 1920s and 1930s, she refocused her energy toward international birth control, traveling and lecturing throughout Asia and Europe. In 1952, she founded the International Planned Parenthood Federation and served as its first president until 1959. Sanger died in Tucson, Arizona, aged 87 years, a few months after the 1965 Supreme Court decision, Griswold vs. Connecticut, that made birth control legal for married couples, the culmination of events Sanger had started 50 years earlier.

 

Margaret Sanger died September 6, 1966

  • About Margaret Sanger - Materials from the Margaret Sanger Project at New York University, including biography, writings, and historical sketches of birth control organizations she was associated with.

  • Margaret Sanger - An essay on her life and work, admiring Sanger as a "great freethinker."

  • Margaret Sanger - James Madison College at MSU - Margaret Sanger and the 1920's Birth Control Movement. Our Research On Margaret Sanger. Useful Links On Sanger and On Her Crusade. Works Cited in Our Papers. 

  • PPNYC -- Margaret Sanger Center International - Margaret Sanger Center International, part of Planned Parenthood of New York City, works with local partners worldwide toward healthy sexuality, reproductive choice, and gender equity.

  • Sanger Fact Sheet - Margaret Sanger gained worldwide renown, respect, and admiration for founding the American birth control movement and, later, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as well as for developing and encouraging family planning efforts throughout the international community.

  • Sanger Papers Mini-Edition - The Margaret Sanger Papers documents the publication of the feminist journal, The Woman Rebel, and Sanger's emergence as the foremost leader of the birth control.

  • The Hall of Fame Inductees: Margaret H. Sanger - 1976 Inductee. Margaret H. Sanger, 1879-1966. Founder of the American birth control movement, Margaret H. Sanger fought for revision of archaic legislation which prohibited publication of facts about contraception.

  • TIME 100: Leaders & Revolutionaries - Margaret Sanger - When the history of our civilization is written, it will be a biological history, and Margaret Sanger will be its heroine.

  • Welcome to the Margaret Sanger Papers Project's web site. -The Project was formed by Dr. Esther Katz in 1985 to locate, arrange, edit, research, and publish the papers of the noted birth control pioneer.

Last Modified: Thursday May 20, 2010




 

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