The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger

Volume 2: Birth Control Comes of Age, 1928-1939
Author: Margaret SangerEdited by Esther Katz
Peter C. Engelman and Cathy Moran Hajo, Associate Editors, and Amy Flanders, Assistant Editor
Promoting birth control as reform rather than revolution
Cloth – $95
Publication Date
Cloth: 03/26/2007
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About the Book

The birth control crusader, feminist, and reformer Margaret Sanger was one of the most controversial and dynamic figures of the twentieth century. Volume 2 chronicles Sanger's efforts during the Depression years to legalize contraception. These significant and engaging letters and writings, constructed to be read as biography, tell the story of Sanger's frank discussion of birth control before an uneasy Congress, her quest for a judicial test case, and her ongoing public relations campaign to convince Americans about the benefits of birth control despite powerful opposition from the Catholic Church. Volume 2 also documents Sanger's complicated personal life, her unstable marriage, loss of wealth, and love affairs in middle age. Covering the years of Sanger's political organizing, this volume is required reading for anyone interested in the emergence of "planned parenthood" and the life of its extraordinary leader.

As with volume 1, the documents assembled here, more than eighty-five percent of them letters, were culled from the Margaret Sanger Papers Microfilm Edition, edited by Esther Katz, Cathy Moran Hajo, and Peter C. Engelman. Volume 3 will address later periods in Sanger's life, and volume 4 will cover her international work in the birth control struggle.

* Publication was supported in part by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission

About the Author

Esther Katz is editor and director of the Margaret Sanger Papers Project and associate professor (adjunct) of history at New York University. Cathy Moran Hajo, an associate editor and the assistant director of the Margaret Sanger Papers Project, received her Ph.D in history from New York University. Peter C. Engelman is an associate editor of the Margaret Sanger Papers Project, a freelance writer, and an archivist. Amy Flanders received her doctorate from Oxford University. Her work was funded by a fellowship in historical editing provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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"Against the polarized backdrop, The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger is a refreshing anecdote. . . . The editors have burrowed through an archive of more than 120,000 documents to select speeches, diary entries and, mostly, letters. The papers they've chosen reflect the commendable as well as the unsavory in Sanger's political views and personal life. . . . The two completed volumes offer a singular record of her life and times."--Nation

"In this excellent volume there are no second-hand accounts, but simply Margaret Sanger writing to her friends, family, associates, and political leaders. . . . For a greater understanding of how far we have come in a relatively short span of years, this volume is essential reading for anyone involved with women's reproductive health or reproductive rights as a human right."--Population and Development Review


“In uncovering these historical gems, Volume 2 makes an unmatched contribution to the study of reproductive rights, genetic inheritance, and women’s rights, and reminds us of the importance of vigilance in protecting what Sanger won.”--Ann D. Gordon, editor of The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

"Sanger comes across to readers as a human being with many dimensions, rather than merely a larger-than-life figurehead for a cause. Her foibles and eccentricities appear in the documents, along with her commanding presence as the key public leader in the effort to bring the possibility of birth control to a wide range of women who have begun to demand it. Sanger's world, with its flurry of Congressional appearances, overseas conferences, consultations with staff and medical advisors of the various organizations with which she was affiliated, comes to life through the documents chosen for inclusion in this volume."--Carolyn De Swarte Gifford, editor of Writing Out My Heart: Selections from the Journal of Frances E. Willard, 1855-96