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Margaret Louise Higgins on 14 September, 1879 Corning, New
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
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
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.
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."
Sanger - James Madison College at MSU -
Margaret Sanger and the 1920's Birth Control Movement. Our Research
Sanger. Useful Links On Sanger and On Her Crusade. Works Cited in Our
-- 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.
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.
Papers Mini-Edition -
The Margaret Sanger Papers documents the publication of the feminist
The Woman Rebel, and Sanger's emergence as the foremost leader of 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.
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.
Thursday May 20, 2010