The Margaret Sanger Papers Project: Writings and Speeches, 1911-1959

The Margaret Sanger Papers Project

The Margaret Sanger Papers Project (MSPP) is an historical editing project sponsored by the New York University's Division of Libraries. The Project was formed by Dr. Esther Katz in 1987 to locate, arrange, edit, research, and publish the papers of the noted birth control pioneer. Until 2014, the project was sponsored by NYU's Department of History. The goal of the project was to collect, assemble, identify and publish the letters, diaries, speeches, interviews, articles and other writings by birth control reformer Margaret Sanger, as well as the records of the organizations she founded or led; the journals she edited or published; the legal documents and legislative records generated by her effort to defy the bans and overturn the ban on birth control; and other materials. The papers are drawn from materials collected by the staff of the Margaret Sanger Papers from the Sophia Smith College Collection at Smith College, documents collected by the Sanger Project on a global search, and docuemyns the Sanger Papers and other collections at the Library of Congress.

Margaret Sanger lived a long and productive life. Acutely aware of her position as a reformer and the historical importance of her work, Sanger preserved her papers, dividing them between the Library of Congress and Smith College. Though she originally made a distinction between her "professional" papers, which were to be given to the Library of Congress, and her "personal" papers, which were to go to Smith College, in practice that distinction was not followed rigidly, and both collections contain personal and professional material. These collections are large and cover much of her life; a reader will most likely need to consult both collections for information on any given issue.

Though Sanger contacted her associates in the 1940s and the 1950s, urging them to send her the letters she had written them so that they could be preserved in her collection, she did not recover all of them. In order to fill the gaps in the two main archives, the Margaret Sanger Papers Project undertook a ten-year search to locate Sanger documents in other collections. In the process we located some 7,000 documents, many of them fascinating personal letters written to close friends and confidants, which were located in over 400 archives and private collections. To date, the MSPP has published a microfilm edition, (which is also available online), several online editions and a four-volume book edition.