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Margaret Sanger, "History of the Birth Control Movement in the U.S. Notes," 23-26 Aug 1946.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S72:533."

This is likely a draft of Sanger's address at the International Sex Education Conference held in Stockholm, Sweden from August 23-26. No published proceedings or a more final version has been found.

Greetings from Coworkers & friends from America to members of this Conference.

It is indeed an encouraging sign of the strength of your ideals to have called this Conference & to help us tie up the loose threads after the devastating & destructive war which destroyed so much of the creative effort of thousands of our friends’ labors throughout the world.

It is a pleasure to be able to repeat that in the U.S. we have held to our goal fairly well during these years where our country was deep into World War II.

The years from 1916 when the B.C. movement actually got under way to 1930 was a period of agitation and education.

Many false ideas had to be uprooted. Puritanical minds had to be straightened out & made to realize that contraception was not abortion. Perhaps the one contribution to ↑clearing↓ the atmosphere was the definition of Birth Control. “The conscious control of the birth rate by means that prevent the conception of life.” We emphasized the two words Prevent & Control. This definition was repeated in every article in every lecture over & over again until at last even our opponents had to base their objections on another line by claiming our method of contraception was unnatural while the R.C.’s method was natural.

After 1930 we went ↑into↓ to the legislative side- to amend laws made & passed by Congress over in 1878. We struggled in Congress until 1937 when we finally had a Judicial decision of far reaching importance to the effect that physicians could send articles and reports or supplies.

Merger in 1938,

Name change 1940.

Today 35 State Leagues

and 200 local committees affiliated with the national organization.

These local groups operate & support privately operated B.C. Clinics for parents unable to afford the services of a private physician.

At the time of the merger in 1938 there were 489 clinics in private, hospital and public health centers – today there are over 600 & now that physicians are returning to their private practice more centers will be opened.

These clinics do in no way indicate the public acceptance or use of birth control. Many millions of parents find the family physician sympathetic & counsels them in planning their families. Nurses & social workers advise and direct to medical centers, many bewildered patients for B.C. advice. In 1938, Fortune magazine estimated that the sales of contraception in U.S.A. totaled close to 250,000,000 a year.

Several magazines have polled “the opinions of their subscribers relating to who should give and get B.C. information.” In 1943, 84.9 per cent of women answering Fortune’s poll declared the [subscribers?] in favor of making knowledge of B.C. available to all married women. Ladies’ Home Journal’s readers gave 79% of women favored B.C. practice for married couples.

The gallop poll 1940 revealed 77% of those questioned favored B.C. information through government health centers.

This is the goal of the Planned Parenthood Federation in order to make B.C. available to the largest group whose conditions are not conducive to bearing or rearing children properly for citizenship. These parents should be able to get advice, instructions, & supplies.

Catherine Great in Russia

Early attitude. Woman as a human being– Right to be a mother or not. But this could not be unless she had knowledge to prevent the conception of a new life.

Victor Hugo’s--her force in the world so great as that of an Idea--hour has struck.

1914 & 1916 { Definition – Prevent. Control. Public ignorance, puritanical laws, medical ignorance, no supplies. Need to awaken public to need of women– maternal deaths, infant deaths, abortions. 1) Agitation, 2) Education, 3) Organization, 4) Legislation– clear up laws. Public health centers to give to all. (Birth Control Review)– Holland’s example– 56 clinics. England’s laws Besant & Bradlaugh Knowlton’s pamphlet.

Brooklyn clinic– arrests, jails, court, changed laws for Drs.: 1920, New York State.

Medical supplies– today. Dr. Hannah Stone. Victory for supplies to medical professions.

Dr. Hannah Stone – clinic opened in 1923– Valiant--Medical Woman. Federal laws attacked up to 1937– 1,000 national & local organizations endorsed our bill. Hard work. Many hearing.

Important to have something right to fight vigorously for & something wrong to fight against. Opponents are wrong– never deviated from that truth– give them no quarter.

Rhythm method--Church approval,

Finally court decisions ended our legal battle & we closed up our Washington offices– withdrew from agitating in field.


Merged all into Birth Control Federation– now Planned P L.

Today 600 centers 7 States. Scientific magazine – manufacturing millions dollars supplies each year. Polls- to gauge public opinions. Radio- magazine articles, books, medical schools– (Over)

Women in Japan & [obstetricians?]

Japan 1921 1930

India, China, Russia.

Half slave half free –

Only when we discover a better, simpler method of B.C. can we achieve victory.

We must not be content to go on as with our present methods.

Simpler Methods

Home of Nobel--Peace advocate

Katharine Great


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