Margaret Higgins Sanger

Personal Vita

January 1, 2001

Compiled by Stacy E. Krazinski


Margaret Higgins Sanger

[Source: Gloria Steinem]

Search Strategy Hints

Margaret Sanger Papers Project, New York University History Department.

Marist College


[Source: Margaret Sanger Papers project]

Biographical/Historical Note

Born in Coming, NY, on September 14, 1879 to Michael Hennessy Higgins and Anne Purcell Higgins. Married William Sanger in 1902 and had three children. After spending ten years in an affluent Westchester suburb, the family moved to New York City. Her interest in women's health issues and contraception stemmed from her mother's death due to tuberculosis. She died after having eighteen pregnancies and eleven live births. Margaret was determined to make women a part of the decision-making processes involved in their own sexuality.

[Source: Times 100, Gloria Steinem]

Birth Date

September 14, 1879, in Corning, NY.

[Source of Birthdate: Lader, 1953]

Death Date

September 6, 1966, in a Tucson, Arizona, nursing home

[Source of Deathdate: Lader, 1953]


1896--1900 Attended Claverack College and Hudson River Institute

1900--Started Nursing program at White Plains Hospital

[Source: Margaret Sanger Papers Project]

Work History

1912--Began working as a nurse on the Lower East Side of New York City

1912--Started writing a column for the New York Call entitled "What Every Girl Should Know"

1914--Published The Woman Rebel, a newspaper advocating birth control

1914--Separated from William Sanger

1916--Opened United States' first family planning and birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn

1916--Brownsville Clinic was raided and Sanger was arrested for violating postal obscenity laws.

1916--Fled to Europe to escape persecution

1917--Returned to United States and published the first issue of The Birth Control Review and Birth Control News

1921--Founded the American Birth Control League, the precursor to the Planned Parenthood Federation

1922--Married Oil Magnate James Noah H. Slee

1923--Formed the Clinical Research Bureau, the first legal birth control clinic in the country which was operated under the American Birth Control League

1928--Resigned as the president of the ABCL

1930--Became president of the Birth Control International Information Centre

1937--Became chairperson of the Birth Control Council of America and created the two publications The birth Control Review and The Birth Control News

1939-1942--Was an honorary delegate of the Birth Control Federation of America

1940--Clinical Research Bureau changed its name to Margaret Sanger Research Bureau in honor of its founder

1952-1959--Served as president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation; at this time it was the largest private international family planning organization

1965--Griswold vs. Connecticut made birth control legal for married couples

[Sources: Margaret Sanger Project Papers, Time 100, Gloria Steinem]

Associated Subjects

Birth Control

Family Planning

Family Limitations

Dutch and English Methods of Birth Control

[Source: Margaret Sanger Paper Project]

Associated People

Mabel Dodge

Max Eastman

Havelock Ellis

Emma Goldwin

John Reed

Upton Sinclair

H.G. Wells

[Source: Chesler, Women of Valor]

Associated Organizations

American Birth Control League

Birth Control Council of America

Birth Control Federation of America

Birth Control International Information Center

Birth Control Research Bureau

Birth Control Review/New York Women's Publishing Company

Brownsville Clinic and the Committee of 100

Committee on Maternal Health/Maternity Research Council

International Committee on Planned Parenthood

International Planned Parenthood Federation

Joint Committee of the American Birth Control League and the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau

Margaret Sanger Research Bureau

National Committee for Federal Legislation on Birth Control

New York Birth Control League

Planned Parenthood Federation of America World Population Emergency Campaign

[Sources: History Department-New York University]


Sanger, M. (1931). My right for birth control. New York: Farrar and Rinehardt.

Sanger, M. (1938). Autobiography. New York: WW. Norton and Company.


Family Limitation (1914-1931)

Dutch Methods of Birth Control (1915)

English Methods of Birth Control (1915)

Magnetation Methods of Birth Control (1915)

Related References

Banner, L. (1972). Women in modern America: A Brief History.

Chesler, E. (1992). Women of valor: Margaret Sanger and the birth control movement in America. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Douglass, E. T. (1979). Margaret Sanger: A biography of the champion of birth control. New York: Richard Marek Publishers.

Garraty, J., & Carnes, M. C. (1988). Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 8 1966-1970. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons.

Kennedy, D. (1970). Birth control in America: The career of Margaret Sanger. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press.

Lader, L. (1953). The Margaret Sanger story and the fight for birth control. Garden City, NJ: Doubleday.

Martin, W. (Ed.). (1972). The American sisterhood. New York: Harper and Row.

Margaret Sanger papers project, Department of History, New York University, Revised October 20, 1999.

The selected letters and writings of Margaret Sanger, Indiana University Press, Revised November 17,1999.

Steinem, G. (1999). Margaret Sanger. Time l00.

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