Margaret Sanger, "St. Louis Post-Dispatch Interview (Excerpts)," 20 May 1916.
Source: "Marguerite Martyn, "Mrs. Sanger, Who Defies Federal Law, Outlines Her Work for Birth Control Among the Poor", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 21, 1916.."
On her arrival in St. Louis, Sanger gave several similar interviews to local reporters. The editors have omitted background details written by Marguerite Martyn.
Coming to St. Louis to give three lectures--Monday night at Victoria Theater. Tuesday noon at the "City Club. Tuesday evening, the Town Club. Mrs. Sanger is managed by a committee whose personnel is a mystery. They dare not stand beside her openly. But possibly that may be before she departs.
In years to come it may be history will have it that here was a woman especially endowed and especially called to the delivery of a message. Undoubtedly her personality has gone far to lend conviction of her sincerity
Yet when I met her in her room at the Jefferson she did not seem exceptional in any particular.
She has small, delicately modeled, but not especially regular features; a high, smooth brow, under a wealth of silky blue-black hair. Her hair and long dark lashes are most attractive. She has a calm, assured, unhurried manner. Her speech betrays the idiosyncrasy of dropping the final gs. As the publisher of her magazine, called the Woman Rebel, you'd never identify her.
"Be sure to say that I am married and have three children," was her first remark. "My husband is an artist. When we were first married he still was having quite a struggle to get along. So I continued at my profession and we waited five years before we decided to have a baby."
"My husband's mother came to live with us then, so I could go on working. We waited another five years before we asked for and received another baby. By this time we had become so safely established that as soon as my arms began to yearn to be filled again, inside of [20?] months, our last baby was born."
"I have no message for the rich woman or the middle class woman," said Mrs. Sanger. "They already find information on this subject easily available through their doctors. It is the poor woman, the one whose income is still too limited to provide properly for a child, and the woman already overburdened with children, whom I seek to relieve and to whom I feel responsible."
"How do you limit the channels into which your information shall go?" I asked of her.
"With the organization of responsible committees, who can investigate each individual case," she responded.
"Personally, I think everybody is entitled to all the knowledge that is available, as it is abroad."
"It is therefore necessary that these committees be comprised of reputable physicians or nurses. I prefer nurses as disseminators of the information myself, because they have the opportunity for more individual observation. But medical men object."
"And my great aim, of course, is eventually to get the endorsement of the National Medical Association.
"It was in my work as a trained nurse I so often was confronted with this problem that I decided finally to rebel."
"Much of my work was in the slums. It seems to me the responsibility is ours, not the ignorant mothers' nor the brutal fathers'," she said.
"It is becoming more and more customary for women of the working class to continue at their wage earning after marriage. And surely this is an improvement upon the day when women were obliged to marry in order to be supported. Why shouldn't the young wife as well as the young husband help in the first establishment of a home? The birds prepare their nests together."
"And you observe, too, they do not think of having a family without a nest to rear it in."
"I have been watching with great satisfaction the outcome of my theories among many happy young pairs in the factory towns where I have talked or sent my pamphlets."
"Isn't there always the danger that the wife may become reconciled to her childlessness and the husband reconciled to her contributing to the income, and the possibility of a family becomes more and more remote?" I suggested.
"No," she responded, her eyes suffused with tenderness, even a little blinded, I thought, by sentiment.
"On the contrary, every normal married couple want children. A child planned for and prepared for and waited for until a full sense of responsibility is arrived at, is certainly appreciated."
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project