Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger




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New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press; with kind permission, and thanks to Smith College, Massachusetts


Margaret Sanger (née Higgins, 1879-1966) was the sixth child of eleven children – her mother, Anne, was pregnant 18 times in 22 years. Not surprisingly, she died of ill-health aged 49, nursed by Margaret. Possibly inspired by this, Sanger left home at 15, trained to become a nurse, and began work in the slums of New York City. In the crowded tenements, Sanger was confronted by women’s ignorance of their sexual health – they tended to use abortion as contraception. Saddened and infuriated, she moved out of nursing, and became a social activist. So began her life-long crusade to educate all American women about family planning. Sanger was the mother of the birth control movement in America, and she was instrumental in the development of the Birth Control Pill in the early 1950s.


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David M. Kennedy, “Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger,” | OUR Heritage, accessed May 27, 2024,