Margaret Sanger

(retrieved from The Library of Congress
(retrieved from The Library of Congress

"When a motherhood becomes the fruit of a deep yearning, not the result of ignorance or accident, its children will become the foundation of a new race."

The Biography of Margaret Sanger

Margaret Higgins Sanger was born in Corning New York in 1879. At the age of sixteen Margaret attended Claverack College; where she studied to become a nurse. On August 18, 1902 she married William Sanger and later gave birth to three children. When her children were old enough to attend school she returned to work as a Public Health nurse in lower New York. The strenuous conditions of poverty and unwanted pregnancies had become overwhelming which had eventually inspired Margaret to become an advocacy for contraceptives. In 1914, she published the Women’s Rebel which educated women about the different methods used for prevention and introduced the freedom rights for women to decide if and when they wanted children. She had dedicated her life to helping women make choices. Working in collaboration with numerous scientists in 1951, her dream finally came true. Margaret Sanger became the founder and inventor of the Birth Control Pill.
(Shelley - Project Manager)

The Activist

Margaret Higgins Sanger was a birth control activist and the founder of the American Birth Control League. She taught us to believe that women mattered. Her belief that women should be able to choose whether or not to give birth; led her to advocate for contraception techniques during her lifetime. However, she was arrested a minimum of eight times for speaking publicly on this matter because birth control was illegal then. “While working as a practical nurse and midwife in the poorest neighbourhoods of New York City in the years before World War I, she saw women deprived of their health, sexuality and ability to care for children already born” (Steinem, p.1, 1998). She remains a controversial figure even in today’s society due to various personal and religious beliefs.
(Barbara - Content Editor)

The Rebel

Margaret Sanger transformed from a rebellious figure in society to an inspirational legend. Sanger created two principles for women: the right to control their own bodies and the right to birth control information and services. She also dedicated a lot of time researching the cause and prevention of venereal diseases. Sanger battled the laws trying to open up birth control clinics, and to circulate her research and ideas to the public and media. Her goal was to make sexuality an open discussion; not something that should be shunned upon. In 1923 she was able to open the first legal birth control clinic and she introduced the idea and importance of family planning. Sanger’s ideas influenced more than just birth control for woman; she revolutionized the role of women in society. More married women were entering the workforce, and for the first time women were involved in public concerns. (Abrash, 1992, pp. 274-275).
(Brittany - Design Lead)

The Controversy

A quick internet survey reveals a multitude of negative labels: racist, eugenicist, pro-abortion, contempary of Hitler, public nuisance and many others attacking the integrity of Margaret Sanger. Margaret was a social reformer and activist who recognized the consequences of sexuality on women and society. Her first experience was the premature loss of her mother. Margaret attributed her mother’s death to the many pregnancies and miscarriages she'd had. She further witnessed botched abortions in the slums of New York, and families with too many children for which adequate care was unprovidable due to limited finances. Margaret simply made her concerns the foundation of her work; influencing a time when labels and stereotypes were acceptable. She concluded that certain groups were more prone to the results of sex than others, earning the label "eugenicist" and "racist". Margaret's goal was to encourage women to have control over their bodies and ensure that all children are wanted and not accidental.
(Stephanie - Multimedia Lead)



Abrash, 1992, pp. 274-275). Reference Abrash, B. (1992). From Rebel to grande dame. Family Planning and Perspectives, 24(6), 274-275. Retrieved from

American Experience/The Pill/People&Events: Margaret Sanger (1879-1966). Retrieved from

American Life League. (2008, November 19). Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood racist founder
[Video file]. Retrieved from

Margaret Sanger. (2009, July 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

New York University History Department. (2009). In E. Katz (Ed.), The Margaret Sanger Papers Project. Retrieved from

Steinem, Gloria. (1998). Time Magazine, 100, p.1-2.

[Photographs of Underwood & Underwood]. (ca. 1922). Margaret Sanger (Reproduction number LC-VSZ62-29808), Library
of Congress Print and Photograph Division, Washington, DC.