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Margaret Sanger, "Berks County Birth Control Association Speech Notes," 3 Dec 1920.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Sophia Smith Collection S70:0854 An Address on Birth Control, Reading Times, Dec. 4, 1920, p. 1."

Sanger used these notes for a speech given at the Berkshire Hotel in Reading, PA on Dec 3, 1920. For a typed draft see S70:856. Note handwritten by Sanger at top of first page reads:"1919--deaths 302 under 1 year--
"1919--deaths 154 still born. Quotes from newspaper coverage have been added at the bottom.

Reading, Pa. Dec. 3--1920

Woman must be protected from incessant child bearing before she can actively participate in social life.

She must triumph over natures laws which have kept her in bondage.

She must triumph over these as man has in electricity ship building--etc. She must challenge these laws which have made her a child bearing machine. Only then can she develop her personality & individuality & prepare with man for that greatest of all goals--the emancipation of the human race.

Robert Louis Stevenson Condemnation is misunderstanding

H. G. intelligence slow to develop--

Definition of birth control--


Two kinds of people Large & small families} Poverty disease misery overcrowding unemployment unemployment child labor infant mortality

Two kinds of women start alike}

prudery on sex subjects inventions discoveries vegetable & animal kingdom

Legislative palliatives} 8 hour day-for mothers

& charities not fundamental}

7 million child laborers 300,000 babies under 1 year die 23,000 mothers die a year 25,0000 illegal abortions feeble minded & prostitutes

T.B. 7--4--heart disease-kidney disease

{Insane & T.B. syphilitic woman case

Abortions--my last case--quacks

England--Holland--Germany--new movement) clinics--young people marry. Russia.

U.S.A. laws--none in Pa.--Peace Treaty

Clinics--keynote of new social awakening.


Mrs. Margaret Sanger, of New York, addressed an audience of 1,000 persons in the auditorium last night on the subject of birth control. She strongly advocated the dissemination of knowledge along this line and urged women to insist upon such information being public. The lecture was held under the auspices of the Berks County Association of Women Workers.

"Out of seven women who have tuberculosis," said the speaker, "four die. If these women were granted the knowledge concerning birth control much of this fatality would be prevented."

She cited instances where women appealed to physicians to aid them, but the doctors were forced by the law to turn the women away knowing that the woman would either die or the child would be mentally or physically incapable of assuming its share of the responsibility of life.

"The natural instinct of the mother is to cherish and protect her child." she said. "If a woman knows she cannot do this properly she should be conversant with the subject of child control."

"Women are becoming sick and tired of being but child bearing slaves and are demanding that they be released from this bondage. I would like to see a clinic established in every community where the women who desire it could secure information regarding the subject."

Subject Terms:

Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project