Margaret Sanger, "In Memoriam--Hannah Mayer Stone," Aug 1941.
Source: " Human Fertility, Aug. 1941, p. 109-110 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S72:277."
For the eulogy Sanger gave at a service, see "Eulogy for Hannah Stone," Oct. 28, 1941.
Hannah Mayer Stone came to take her stand beside me in 1923. The birth control movement at that time had to prove itself. It had to prove to the medical profession that it had more than theories to go on--it had to have facts, records, experience and knowledge before that august and conservative body would acknowledge its importance or existence. Without a doctor this could not be attempted in New York. Few doctors wanted to take the risk of identifying themselves with the birth control cause, the risk of becoming a martyr, of losing professional license or standing, of being expelled from their medical societies.
Dr. Stone saw this situation clearly, but her spirit, her courage, and her vision decided the issue. In 1925 she became Medical Director of the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau, a post which she held until her passing, serving during all these years as a volunteer, without any other remuneration than the satisfaction of seeing her efforts bear rich fruit.
When on July 10, she passed over to the Great Beyond, her going was not only a tragic loss to the birth control movement, but also to the thousands of women whose personal problems she had studied and helped to solve. Many of these women came again and again to the Bureau to see her and to seek her guidance, and to them her loss is irreparable. It was to her infinite patience, her attention to details, her understanding of human frailties, her sympathy, her gentleness--to all these qualities of mind and personality, that these thousands of mothers owed their peace of mind, marital harmony, health, and yes, in many cases, life itself. She was indefatigable in her efforts to work out special methods of contraception for the very difficult cases, methods suited to their individual peculiarities. Thousands caller her blessed.
On looking back over these many years of her comradeship, one sees the landmarks she has set. No one, certainly, had more thoroughly explored the clinical aspects of contraception. From 1923 to 1941, we have assembled at the Bureau nearly 100,000 medical and social histories of the patients who came to us, a mighty array of factual evidence of what birth control can do and has done. Thanks to her guidance and direction these case histories have already proved to be of unique value and will continue to represent a wealth of social and medical material for future studies.
It was she who, with Dr. James F. Cooper, was most responsible for the introduction of the knowledge of contraceptive techniques to the medical profession. Her “Therapeutic Contraception,” a report presented in 1928, was the first factual clinical study on contraception to be published in any medical journal in this country. Her numerous lectures before medical and public health organizations always resulted in a clarification of the subject. Her clear cut and logical presentation, her serenity, dignity, modesty, her gay laughter and stubborn insistence on professional standards, brought clarity, conviction and illumination to her audiences. Thousands of medical students and physicians came to the Bureau to observe her techniques and receive instruction under her, and many of the physicians who now direct and serve in birth control centers all over the country received their initial training and stimulus from Dr. Hannah Stone.
At the same time her valiant stands in court for the right of the physician to prescribe contraceptives have been vindicated time and again and have brought increased freedom for the medical profession. It was in a large measure due to her courage and her work that the birth control movement has marched steadily forward.
Contact with the troubled women who consulted her at the Bureau by the thousands convinced her that there was a wide field for marriage counseling, and together with her husband, Dr. Abraham Stone, she began another great pioneer task. In 1931 they opened the first Consultation Center in New York City, first under the auspices of the Labor Temple, and later of the Community Church in New York. To this service they brought a warm and sympathetic understanding of the human problems which wreck so many marriages. Because of their unusual and close companionship, and the rarely happy marriage which they had achieved, Dr. Hannah Stone and her husband were uniquely fitted as marriage counselors. Their joint book “A Marriage Manual” is doubtless the most widely read textbook in this field and constitutes a veritable monument to sanity and understanding.
Dr. Hannah Stone had a Madonna--like beauty which, coupled with her kindliness and graciousness, seemed a fitting complement to her position, and inspired confidence in all who met her. Her death is a great loss to me personally. But I know that her influence is not gone, it will carry on and on in an ever-widening circle. So we not only say “Farewell,” but we add “and Hail!”
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project