Margaret Sanger

Sanger, Margaret Higgins

Margaret Higgins Sanger, 1879–1966, American leader in the birth control movement, b. Corning, N.Y. Personal experience and work as a public-health nurse, much of it on New York City's Lower East Side, convinced her that family planning, especially where poverty was a factor, was a necessary step in social progress. She studied in London with Havelock Ellis and others and, back in the United States, began her campaign almost single-handedly. Indicted in 1915 for sending birth control information through the mails and arrested the next year for conducting a birth control clinic in Brooklyn, Sanger gradually won support from the public and the courts. A clinic opened (1923) in New York City functioned until the 1970s. She organized the first American (1921) and international (1925) birth control conferences and formed (1923) the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control. She was president of the committee until its dissolution (1937) after birth control under medical direction was legalized in most of the states. In the 1960s, Sanger actively supported the use of the newly available birth control pill. She visited many countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia, lecturing and helping to establish clinics. Her books include Woman and the New Race (1920), Happiness in Marriage (1926), and an autobiography (1938).

See biographies by L. Lader (1955, repr. 1975), E. Chesler (1992), and J. H. Baker (2011); studies by D. M. Kennedy (1970) and E. T. Douglas (1975); L. V. Marks, Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill (2001); bibliography by R. and G. Moore (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography
Margaret Sanager.
W. W. Norton, 1938
FREE! Woman and the New Race
Margaret Sanger.
Truth Publishing, 1920
Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger
David M. Kennedy.
Yale University Press, 1970
Margaret Sanger: She Believed Reproductive Rights Could Change History without Class War. (Articles)
Chesler, Ellen.
The Nation, Vol. 277, No. 3, July 21, 2003
Women's Rights
Christine A. Lunardini.
Oryx Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "Margaret Sanger and the Fight for Birth Conrol, 1883-1966" begins on p. 126
Against the Tide: Women Reformers in American Society
Paul A. Cimbala; Randall M. Miller.
Praeger Publishers, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement" begins on p. 125
American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism
Nancy Ordover.
University of Minnesota Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Margaret Sanger and the Eugenic Compact" begins on p. 137
The Politics of Abortion and Birth Control in Historical Perspective
Donald T. Critchlow.
Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Margaret Sanger begins on p. 1
The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History
Eva R. Rubin.
Greenwood Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "'The Turbid Ebb and Flow of Misery': Margaret Sanger's Autobiography" begins on p. 31
From Private Vice to Public Virtue: The Birth Control Movement and American Society since 1830
James Reed.
Basic Books, 1978
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 22 "Margaret Sanger from Exile: The Founding of the International Planned Parenthood Federation"
Sexual Power: Feminism and the Family in America
Carolyn Johnston.
University of Alabama Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: "Margaret Sanger" begins on p. 87
Dangerous Women-Dangerous Ideas
Greenland, Cyril.
The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 11, No. 3-4, Fall-Winter 2002
Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1925-1993: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook
Karlyn Kohrs Campbell.
Greenwood Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "Margaret Higgins Sanger" begins on p. 238
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